Modified Header Hikes Sunflower Harvest Efficiency
McClusky, N.D., farmer Mike Faul didn’t have to look far for help when, four years ago, he and his farming partners (father Jerome and brother-in-law Brian Thomas) opted for some major modifications to the header used to harvest their sunflower crop. Faul Manufacturing in nearby Harvey provided an answer in the form of a customized toolbar with short-ened pans that is easily attached to and detached from a standard grain platform.
The Fauls and Thomas took the trans-formation one step further by foregoing the rotary drum of their old sunflower attachment and instead utilizing the reel on their 30-foot grain head. Metal mesh has been fastened to the reel to keep incoming sunflower heads from becoming tangled between the reel bats. The mesh stays on during the grain harvest as well.
Mike Faul says the reel tends to draw plant heads into the combine without the “bounce” and ensuing seed shatter that he experienced with the drum on his former sunflower attachment. Stalk plugging has been nearly nonexistent while using the current system, he adds, with the reel height adjustable to fit varying crop conditions.
Beneath the reel are situated 12-inch-wide catch pans from the old attachment, each shortened from its original standard length down to about 32 inches. The pans are mounted on the 2x2-inch toolbar, which in turn is quickly attached or detached simply by tightening or loosening the four short binding chains that secure the bar to the grain platform.
Why opt for the shortened pans? “With our previous system, it seemed we always had some bowing or breaking of the pans with that extra length and weight out front,” Faul remarks. “We haven’t had that problem since we shortened them up.” The shorter length has not resulted in any stalk feeding problems or increased seed loss off the pan tips, he adds, since the heads don’t bounce back out from the reel.
Hooking up this modified sunflower attachment is a breeze, according to Faul. “We just drive right in so the platform guard fits underneath the pans,” he explains. Tightening those four chains adequately secures the unit — and it’s all accomplished in less than 10 minutes. — Don Lilleboe
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