As new grain corn hybrids pop out of the ground in Western farm fields with increasing frequency, more producers are taking a look at the feasibility of incorporating that crop into their operations. For many, though, the added cost of new machinery investment has been a big impediment to making the leap.
Flexxifinger of Assiniboia, Sask., has a product that will go a long way toward solving that problem. Company reps were on hand at Ag Connect Expo in Kansas City in January to introduce their new Corn Harvest Pans. When installed on a small-grains Draper header on a combine, they allow it to effectively harvest standing corn. That helps make multi-cropping financially feasible, especially for farmers working on a smaller scale.
“We’ll release about 100 or 130 sets this year,” says Dave Dietrich, owner of Flexxifinger, noting interest among western Canadian farmers is growing. “It makes it (corn) a crop a guy can try. If he can do it with his existing header and run it through his combine, it makes it possible.”
Pricing and efficiency
Purchasing a set of Corn Harvest Pans for a conventional Draper grain header allows it to do double duty at a budget price. “Our price strategy is 10 per cent of a corn header,” says Ron Wheeler, product support specialist at Flexxifinger.
But with a year of field trials under their belts, Corn Harvest Pans are showing they are more than just a cheap alternative to a dedicated corn head, according to Wheeler. They may actually be a better choice for farmers growing both small grains and corn. “We’re able to handle corn stalks easier than wheat,” he says.
Combines equipped with Corn Harvest Pans showed a marked efficiency improvement over those using regular corn headers during the trials. The benefit comes from the reels pulling the corn plants into the header as they get cut by the knife, any dropped cobs fall on the Draper belts rather than onto the ground, as often happens with a corn header.
“Because of the shape of the deflector, stalks don’t angle forward like on a corn header,” explains Wheeler. “Then the reel is able to take it in. You don’t drop nearly as many cobs. Our estimate is 10 to 15 per cent better than a corn head. ”
Wheeler says running the combine through the crop at a 15° to 30° angle to the rows is best. “A 15° to 30° angle is really nice,” he explains. And that means a combine can harvest corn seeded at any row spacing, adding to cropping flexibility.
Early in the development process engineers had a problem with corn stalks getting trapped underneath the Draper belts and stopping them. That problem was solved by elevating the Corn Harvest Pans four inches above the knife. It also allowed all of the sections on the knife to be used. “By raising them, it frees up the whole cutter bar,” says Wheeler.
Using the Corn Harvest Pans in the field didn’t necessitate any change to a combine’s ground speed. Wheeler says the Draper headers effectively fed corn into the combines at 4.5 to five miles per hour.
And corn crops can go down in bad weather, just like cereals. If that happens, Flexxifinger’s standard crop lifters can be attached to the front of the Corn Harvest Pans to help lift the broken stalks up and get them feeding into the combine.
For more information, visit www.flexxifinger.com.