Machinery Chatter

Get Grain Carts Ready for Harvest

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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A well-maintained grain cart can minimize breakdowns and harvest delays. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

Across the Corn Belt, farmers are beginning to pull harvest equipment into the shop to do preseason maintenance. Combines, tractors, trucks, augers -- you name it -- and the machinery will probably get a once over before fall harvest starts.

As any farmer knows, one piece of harvest equipment that is vital during harvest is the grain cart. A grain cart breakdown during harvest will stop the flow of grain out of the fields.

Farmers should perform preseason maintenance on their grain carts, according to Phil Jennings, service manager at Kinze Manufacturing, Inc. Kinze has manufactured planters and grain carts for more than 45 years.

"In farming, there are so many factors that we cannot control," Jennings said a press release. "Preventive maintenance helps us maximize the opportunity to be effective and efficient at harvest time."

Kinze offers the following list on what to inspect before harvest:

-Inspect augers for noticeable wear. Over time, augers may become smaller in diameter, which will diminish their performance.

-Check for proper adjustment of the drive belts and make sure serviceable parts of the power-take-off (PTO) shafts are greased or serviced.

-If wheels carry your cart, reset the torque on the wheel nuts and check the tire pressure.

-If tracks carry your cart, check the torque on bolts and tension on the track itself.

-Check the oil in the gearbox.

-Look over the tarp to make sure there aren't any tears or spots showing wear.

-Confirm the accuracy of the scale system by checking the weight and load of your cart with the legal trade scale at your local grain elevator.

-Inspect the hydraulic hoses to ensure they have no visible wear spots or leaks.

-Make sure the lights are working properly.

-Check to see that the safety chains are attached securely and are in good condition.

-Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign is clean and clearly visible.

Jennings said grain carts are simple products compared to other farm machinery, so most of the pre-harvest maintenance can be done visually and in a fairly short amount of time.

"By the time harvest rolls around, it may have been 10 months since your cart has been used," he said. "Carts get used hard at harvest, and usually don't get looked at again until the following year. When you rely on a piece of equipment this much, it's imperative to take preventive measures to be certain there are no surprises in the field."

Farmers also should be sure to maintain the correct tire pressure during harvest. According to a press release from Michigan State University (MSU), properly inflated tires generate nearly 25% more pull than tires inflated at higher pressures. That can reduce fuel consumption and field time.

"Properly inflated tires will also reduce the depth and degree of compaction in the top foot of soil," the MSU report stated.

MSU recommends farmers use load and inflation tables available from the tire manufacturer and inflate tires to the lowest recommended pressure for the weight carried per tire. Farmers should also use a high quality tire gauge to check inflation pressure. Check the pressure when the tires are cold, preferably in the morning. Readings could be 1 to 3 psi higher when the tires are warm.

The Kinze press release can be found at http://www.kinze.com/….

The MSU press release can be found at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/….

(CZ)

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