Soybean Harvest

The soybean is the last crop we harvest for the year. After it’s done, the combine goes back in the shed, and stays there until needed for wheat harvest next June.  When soybeans are brought in, the plant is cut off at ground level, run through the combine, beans removed from the pods, and the pods and plants shredded and shot out the back of the combine. Here’s a pic of the soybean head on the combine.

First, the bean plant is cut by the reciprocating knife cutter bar.(blue arrows)

Second, the revolving reel with teeth knocks the cut bean plant into the auger.(green arrows)

Third, the auger (red arrows) feeds the plant up inside the combine. (yellow arrow)

The pink arrow indicates where the cute driver of the combine sits. (tee hee)   And here’s a view of the cute driver himself at the wheel.

Notice how dusty it is out the window. Harvesting beans is a dusty dirty business. Thank goodness for enclosed combine cabs.

Here’s a view of the bean head in action as shot from the inside of the combine cab. The plants have been cut and are working their way along the auger to be drawn into the combine.

Once inside the combine, the soybeans are threshed from their pods, and stored in the hopper. The pods along with the rest of the plant are shredded and shot out the back of the combine.

The combine is driven through the field at a breaking-the-sound-barrier speed of 3.5 miles per hour. That’s part of the reason why harvest can take days and days.

Here it comes towards us.

As he finishes this pass and comes past us, you can see the shredded plants coming out the back.

Harland heads back to the uncut beans for another pass. It’s like mowing the lawn.

Here he comes again to make another pass in front of us. This time, I belly flopped down onto the ground to get a mouse’s eye view.

When the hopper on the combine is full, he unloads it into the waiting grain truck parked at the edge of the field. Here he comes. There are already some beans in the truck from a previous unload.

A pull of the lever inside the combine and the beans start to unload.

Once the combine is unloaded, Harland heads back out into the field. Here’s a close-up of the beans.

He continues to harvest past sundown, and gets home every night about 9pm.

Harvest takes about a week, and by the end of it, Harland is pretty worn out.

No rest for the weary though, and next day he’s back out in the field planting winter wheat. There’s always something waiting to be done on the farm.


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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31 Responses

  1. Sarah Lynn says:

    Very neat, I am really enjoying your blog. 🙂

  2. Chester's Mom says:

    Thanks so much for the cool pics of the bean harvest. We had a really dry summer and none of the crops did very well. It looks like your beans got plenty of water! Thanks for your blog, I really enjoy it.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Chester’s Mom,
      Our beans got plenty of water up until the time the pods were filling, and then we had a drought, so the beans are smaller than usual, decreasing overall yield. Bummer.
      Glad to have you here!

  3. Kerry Hand says:

    Winter coming on for you. For us it’s just starting to burst into summer.
    Love those photos with the low angle sun
    Kerry Hand.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kerry,
      Love your blog. So interesting to see part of the world I may never get to visit, although I would like to.

  4. Glyndalyn says:

    Thank you for being a family farmer. In spite of a bumbling and indifferent government. Enjoyed the lesson in soy bean harvesting.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Glendus,
      Thank you! We keep hanging in there and will continue to farm as long as possible. It’s really a way of life.

  5. Stephanie says:

    You guys have amazing machines 😉

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      I’m amazed to watch Harland drive the combine. It’s so big, and has so many levers and switches and so much can go wrong with it.

  6. Glenda says:

    It’s a good thing Harland is a photographer as well or he might have wondered what the heck you were doing laying on your belly in the middle of the field! Ha!

  7. Melanie says:

    Can you imagine how those husbands and sons looked when they came home at night BEFORE they had cabs on their machinery!! OOOOOH Yuck!!! Enjoyed the pictures.

  8. Very cool! I always love to see how crops are harvested. That machine is huge! I can’t believe how slow going that process is! Poor Harland! Those are some long working days for sure! Once again, your photos are great!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Harland downloads books to listen to when he’s harvesting. Helps to pass the time.
      Thank you Bonnie!

  9. Vivian says:

    So interesting! Beautiful pictures, especially the combine riding off into the sunset. Seriously, though, how can the thresher tell the difference between the beans and the shells? (pardon the ignorant city-slicker).

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you Vivian!
      The beans are sorted by both weight and wind. The beans are heavier than the chaff, and air is blown on them and since the beans are heavier, the chaff blows away, leaving the beans behind.
      Thanks for asking, I should have included that in the post!

  10. Carola says:

    Thanks for sharing the bean harvest. It brings back many good memories of growing up on a farm in SD. So many people have no idea how their food gets to the table or how crops are harvested.

    I enjoy reading your blog & have learned about places in KS I need to visit also.

  11. Betty says:

    Just have to tell you that I love your site. I found it accidentally and I am trying your Honew Wheat Bread recipe. I am 48 years old and have never tried this. My husband is a little worried. Wish me luck and keep up the great job you are doing.

  12. Betty says:

    oops. Should be Honey Wheat Bread.

  13. Lola says:

    Thank you for the great pics! (wow, and you even dropped flat on your belly just for us – thank you for the mouse perspective!) Hugs, Lola ;0)

  14. Hound Doggy says:

    Thanks for these posts. I grew up in the country but not on a farm. Many of my friends families were farmers but I never really got how things worked. Now I finally get it! I understand how the combine works!!!
    What a great and entertaining teacher you are. 🙂

  15. PAC says:

    I have lived in Nebraska my whole life, seen the combines in the fields, and have always wondered about the logistics of harvest…and now I know! Thank you for such an informative post!

  16. Teresa says:

    Great pictures! Your posts are always so educational. I think all of Iowa has a cloud of soybean dust right now, which explains why I can’t breathe! We’ll finish beans here and then corn will be the last to harvest!

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