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gathering chain adjustments for down corn harvest 

Gathering chain adjustments can make a big difference when harvesting down corn. Below are some tweaks that will help you capture your down crop.

Synchronize with Ground Speed Changes

First, properly setting your corn head gathering chain speed reduces the headaches associated with harvesting down corn. Synchronize gathering chain to ground speed so that the gathering chain lugs are moving toward the header at the same speed as the cornstalks. A full explanation of synchronizing the gathering chain with ground speed and stalk behavior is on this page.

Change Lug Alignment of Gathering Chains

The second adjustment to maximize the chain’s grabbing and conveying ability in down corn is to adjust the gathering chains so the lugs are opposed from each other. This is a standard adjustment setting for Case IH corn heads, but John Deere corn heads typically come from the factory with the gathering chain lugs staggered. This is good for standing corn, but set the gathering chain lugs so they are opposed to make them more aggressive for moving dislodged material up the row unit.

Lastly, try reversing the direction (turning gathering chains around) of the gathering chains. This increases aggressiveness of the chains for adverse crop conditions.

Tips & Refinements
For Harvesting Down Corn

Tune up your combine for the toughest of situations

Down Corn Head Angle

Setup on a flat surface and lower the header until the lowest point of the row unit is 2 inches above the ground. Flatten the head angle to achieve approx. 20 degrees to make gravity less of an enemy. Watch the video for full details. 

Stalk Roll Open Window

We don't mean to brag, but our BT Chopper® Stalk Rolls are the only roll in the industry with a patented open window feeding chamber to TACKLE CORNSTALKS IN ALL CROP CONDITIONS. Their performance can save you days by speeding up your picking ability in adverse crop conditions.

Install Calmer Chain Paddles

Our oversized gathering chain paddles increase the surface area of the chain lug to increase the grabbing and conveying of material in adverse crop conditions.

Install Auto Header Height

Most modern heads have it, but if you're going into down corn, you'll appreciate this feature.

Synchronize Chain Speed to Ground Speed

We want the gathering chains moving toward the combine at the same speed as the cornstalks are moving toward the combine.

Raise Cross Auger

Increase the clearance between the tray and auger flighting to 2 inches to allow dislodged material floating above the deck covers to be sucked under and transported to the feeder house.

Open Stripper Plates

Reduce the energy required to move dislodged or odd angled stalks through the row unit.  Use more of a taper from the bottom of the stripper plates to the top. Watch our video for full details. 

Center Plates over Stripping Tunnel

One potential inconvenience of hydraulic plates is the one-sided adjustment.  In preparing for down or lodged corn, make sure the center of the stripper plate gap is align directly over the center portion of the stalk rolls.

oppose gathering chain lugs

On green heads, your lugs are normally opposed from the factory.  On red heads, consider setting the chain lugs so they are opposed from one another to increase aggressiveness. We do not recommend this in rocky conditions or in standing corn.

Install a Corn Reel

If conditions demand it, install a corn reel to provide more energy for transporting dislodged material from the divider snouts to the cross auger.

Remove End Risers or tall corn extensions

Remove any excess height from risers or wings. This will reduce the angle of incline and improve the flow of material. You can also install Roll-A-Cones to auger material toward the center of the corn head.

Remove Ear Savers

Normally, rubber ear savers keep ears from bouncing forward, but in down corn conditions, you may want remove the ear savers to allow the salks to enter the head without obstruction.

Harvest on downwind side of field

Approach the stalks from the top of the plant as it's lying on the ground to lift the stalks as attempt to capture your downed crop. For example, if the corn rows run north and south, and the corn is blown down to the east, start on the east side and work your way to the west. 

Increase Divider Pitch

Change the pitch of your row dividers to stay under the canopy and to prevent them from hopping up over stalks. Be careful not to make them too aggressive or they will engage the soil and fold up underneath the corn head.

Install Row Sense

Row sense is another useful tool to use when harvesting down corn. The Headsight system is spring loaded so you can back up without it breaking off.

Add Weight to the Snoots

If your corn is so flat that the nose cones are riding up and over stalks, try weighting the poly snoots or changing the angle of your corn head's elf's foot.