At a time when farm profits increasingly hinge on boosting productivity, soybean producer David Fortenberry, is looking forward to cashing in on his 2015 investment in a Crary Wind System. The CWS paid for itself before the end of harvest, and promises a conservative 10% increase in beans binned for years to come.
Fortenberry and his son, Derek, farm soybeans, corn and wheat on 2600 acres of red clay loam near Winnsboro in northeast Louisiana close to the Macon Ridge. In 2015 they averaged 79.2 bu/A on 1,282 acres of soybeans, a yield average boosted considerably by the increased harvest efficiency they found with their CWS-equipped FD75 MacDon 40-foot flex draper header.
“I’m well pleased with the CWS,” Fortenberry explains. “In numerous field tests we did this year on our five varieties of soybeans on dryland and irrigated fields, we were able to hold our yield losses at the header to 1-1.5 bu/A.”
“That figure was consistent regardless of the moisture of the beans we were harvesting or the time of day we were in the field,” he says. “The eye-opener to us was in tests where we turned the system off and compared the losses without it – even using a brand new draper header.”
Fortenberry used a foot-square frame to check header losses directly behind the combine head.
“We’d harvest for 100-150 feet and then stop to check header losses with the frame. We did this with and without the CWS operating,” he explains.
“In an irrigated field that produced 103 bu/A, without the CWS we counted 20-plus beans per square foot behind the header. In an adjacent strip with the air on, the losses were only 2 beans per square foot,” he says. “Our combine manuals say two seeds per square foot equals a bushel-per-acre header loss, so you can see the difference running the air makes.
“If you are seeing 12 seeds per square foot behind the header, that’s six bushels an acre you’re not getting paid for. When you do the math, even with $9 bean prices, over our 1282 acres it doesn’t take long to pay for this system.
“In a dryland field with a 45 bu/A yield average, the difference was even more telling,” he adds. “There, we saw 32-plus beans per square foot (16 bushels per acre losses) behind the header without the CWS, and with it, only 2 beans per frame.”
The CWS uses a Crary 8-inch fan powered by a PTO shaft to distribute air to a powder-coated manifold on the header then down a series of drop tubes to provide a high-velocity stream of air to push the crop from the cutter bar into the header. The forced air – adjustable from the cab – ensures harvested grain moves past the cutter bar into the combine, rather than bouncing on the header and falling to the ground as waste.
Fortenberry says his tests on the 2015 crop showed consistent yield improvements with the CWS in beans of both 9% moisture and 12-13% moisture.
“On the drier beans, we were seeing 4.5 to 6-bushel losses without the air, and consistently well under 2 bu/A with the air system running. In 12%-moisture beans, we had about 5.5 bu/A losses with the air turned off, but with the air on the losses dropped back under 2 bu/A,” he explains.
“In fact, several weeks after we finished harvest, the test areas where we didn’t use the CWS looked as if they’d been reseeded,” Fortenberry noted.
The more efficient crop handling at the cutter bar also helped Fortenberry maintain his usual 5-5.5 mph harvest speeds, even on some custom fields he harvested this year with tall, lanky bean plants and heavy infestations of tall grass.
“The forced air blows the stems to the cutter bar where they can be cleanly harvested without shattering in contact with the reel,” he says. “I’ve even raised the reel up where it never touches the crop and the air still puts the plants right where they belong for a clean harvest.”
Fortenberry says because he’d been considering an air system for several years, when he and Derek switched their entire operation to 12-row equipment for 2015 he decided to equip his new 40-foot draper header with the Crary Wind System. The pair installed the CWS themselves in one day.
“We have a local dealer here in Winnsboro who handles Crary’s equipment, so when I ordered the new header, I also ordered the CWS,” he says. “I figured it would help us boost our wheat and soybean harvest efficiency.
“I’ve been well pleased and think the CWS is a money-maker in soybeans for sure,” he added. “Also, after our experience with it this year, if and when I trade combines, I’ll definitely buy another one. That should say it all.”
The 40-foot CWS lists for $12,670 (plus shipping and installation), with models available to fit most combine and header brands. For more information on the CWS or Crary’s Air Reel, visit www.crary.com.