As you may know, I’m a Colorado girl who grew up on a wheat farm with cattle and pigs. When I moved to Kansas 12 years ago, I didn’t know anything about soybeans and very little about corn. Where we live in Kansas, we almost always harvest our corn first then our soybeans. However, farther north, a lot of farmers will harvest their soybeans first. Soybeans are more temperamental than corn. When the soybeans are ready to harvest, the farmer better get to harvesting.
Let me tell you why. Soybeans are very temperamental with moisture, so with the heavier dews that we have in October, it’s later in the morning or early afternoon before the soybean plant is ready to harvest, and we usually have to stop working around dark because the plants get “too tough” to continue harvesting. This means that the kernels will not come out of the pod very well. With the fluctuations in the moisture, the soybean kernel will swell and shrink, this makes the kernels more likely to “pop out”. If the kernel pops out on the ground, there’s no way to collect it, and it’s just lost. So we harvest as much as the weather allows. Things like this are more of an art than a science in farming.
We finished corn harvest early last week. One difference between corn and soybean harvest is that corn does not “take on the moisture” as much as soybeans do. Generally with corn harvest, we will work until all the trucks are loaded for the next day, which means there are lots of nights during corn harvest that the day may not be complete until 9 or 10 pm. With soybean harvest, the day is usually done by around 8 pm. If the wind is blowing we can continue to work for a while after dark.
We are over half done with our farm’s soybean harvest.
Taking a snack break before getting back to work (Dad, Papa AKA Grandpa, Uncle Ben, and the MessMaker). This is the way lunch and afternoon snack are eaten at harvest time – out of the back of a vehicle. By eating in the field it really reduces the amount of time that it takes for a meal. We’re sitting in the machines while working so it gives everyone a good chance to stretch their legs. A lunch meal may be a casserole, vegetable, bread, and a dessert. An afternoon snack might be crackers & cheese with fruit.
Harvester – the harvest machine is called a “combine”. This machine was named a combine because it combined the process of cutting the plant off and thrashing the grain from the plant. Prior to this invention, the plant had to be cut off, and then hauled to a stationary thrashing machine to remove the grain. Obviously, this was very time consuming. History lesson over – notice the soybeans piled at the top of the combine – the bin is full and needs to be off loaded.
This is the “head” of the combine (the harvesting machine). The soybean plant is cut off at the base of the plant. You can see soybean kernels (they are yellow and about the size of a garden pea), on the right side of the picture is a soybean plant that hasn’t gone through the machine yet, the dried pods resemble a garden pea plant, these plants had about 3 soybeans per pod.
Off-loading the soybeans from the combine to a grain cart. In this picture we are “unloading on the go” which means the combine is continuing to run, and unload at the same time. The driver of the grain cart and the driver of the combine have to work together to drive the same speed so no kernels get dumped on the ground. The grain cart will then off-load to a semi-truck. The semi-truck will take the soybeans to our farm bins for storage. We will wait until later to deliver the soybeans to a processing plant which will process the soybeans into oil and meal.
Thanks for visiting our farm during harvest!