Field Corn Harvest

The corn harvest is in full swing and today you get to come along for a ride on the combine. First, a short combine tutorial. Pay attention, we don’t want to lose anyone on our tour. Here’s the combine looking at it from the front.

That’s my hubby Harland coming down the ladder.

Here’s a close up of the front of the combine.

As the combine is driven through the cornfield, Harland guides the rows of corn in between the points (black arrows). The teeth on the gathering chain (pink arrows) separate the corn ears from the corn plants, leaving the plant in the field. The corn ears are then drawn by the auger (red arrows) into the corn ear entrance (blue arrow). Once inside the combine, the corn kernels are separated from the ear, and the kernels are then stored in the hopper, and the cobs and husks are shot out the back of the combine.  It’ll all make more sense when you see it in action.

So here comes Harland taking a pass around the field.

The cloud of debris behind the combine is the corn husks and cobs being shot out the back.

As he comes alongside us, you can get a better view.

As he goes on past us, you can get a look at the back of the combine.

Most of the cobs that come out the back of the combine are in pieces, but here’s an intact one.

Ok, so now we can go for a ride-along on the combine. Go on over and climb up the ladder.

Harland has the door open for you, so go on into the cab.

Have a seat. Don’t mind Harland’s curious expression. He’s snacking on rice crisps.

Looking out the front window, here’s your view looking down at the corn head.

Harland drives the combine into the field, and guides the points in between the rows.

Here’s a closer view where you can see the corn ears after they’ve been separated from the corn stalks.

An even closer view. See the corn ears?

So Harland continues to take laps around the field carefully guiding the rows between the points.

Look out the window off to your left over the combine ladder where you got in,  and you can see the corn field flying past.

When the corn hopper where the corn kernels are stored is full, Harland drives over to the grain truck parked on the side of the gravel road alongside the cornfield, and unloads. Look out again to your left and you can see the combine auger arm unloading the corn from the combine into the truck.

Hop down out of the combine to get a better look at the unloading.

Climb up on the back of the grain truck for a close-up look.

Looks like the truck is full. Now we have to drive the truck to the grain elevator in town to unload it.


———–>  Up Next: Ride along on the grain truck as we go into town to unload at the elevator.


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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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56 Responses

  1. Lee Ann L. says:


    Isn’t technology wonderful? Can you imagine what it was like in the olden days when they didn’t have machines like this? *shudders*

  2. Suzanne:

    Thanks so much for that post! I never realized that the combines separated the corn from the cobs until we were riding horses a couple of weeks ago and saw the stripped cobs in the field and piles of loose corn that had (apparently) spilled at some point between the field and the grain truck. I wondered how that worked. 🙂

  3. I’ve never been around a corn field during harvest. Do the corn cobs make a lot of noise going through the combine and gettting shelled? Small grain is “quiet” (not that the combine is quiet). I wonder about the cobs and all.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Gardener,
      Corn is the loudest grain we harvest. The cobs bounce around on the corn head, the sheller inside the combine is noisy too. Wheat and soybeans are quieter.

  4. This was utterly fasinating to me. And I loved the way you brought us along for the ride.
    I love blogs, they are almost more fun to read than a book. I’m addicted!!

  5. Sharon says:

    I had no idea this was how corn was farmed, thanks so much for the photo story. When I lived in OR we were smack in the middle of wheat country. My quilt studio was the Co-op’s old office and it was attached to the grain elevators. I loved/hated harvest time, Exciting to see the trucks pulling in, full of wheat and barley, yet every time they flipped the switch to start the elevator, my big quilt machine would slow right down. I got to hearing the trucks pull in and would turn off my machine. For non farming people, they have no idea where our food source comes from. They think “farmers…..way off in the distance”
    Enjoyed your post today,

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Sharon,
      You’re welcome. And thank you for sharing your story. That is funny how you had to turn your quilter off when a truck would arrive.

  6. Sally Bishop says:

    I was reading Pioneer Woman and clicked on your site from your post there. I graduated high school in Dodge City Kansas and went on wheat harvest one summer when my dad worked with a harvest crew. It was a learning experience. Enjoyed the combine tour.

  7. Holly says:

    Well, this is fascinating! I have always wondered how combines work. My SIL’s family does this in Iowa but we haven’t had the chance to go up and visit and see how it’s done. They drive the grain truck down to North Kansas City several times a week. Looking forward to your next post!

  8. Ah, your blog always makes me miss Kansas so much.

    Harvest time was always my favorite (as a high schooler in a small Kansas town, those boys riding around in their sleeveless shirts with farmer’s tans sure were something)!

    Keep on keepin’ on. Thank you for bringing me back. 🙂

  9. This is soooo interesting. I feel like I just went on a school field trip. Do you all do those?

    Oh AND I know want to add corn to the dinner menu tonight.

    Does your hubby ever let you drive that big ol’ machine?

    Thanks for sharing. Great post!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Momma,
      Glad you enjoyed the field trip. We’ve never done school field trips before. And I’ve never driven the combine before. I’m scared to. 🙂

  10. Peggy says:

    Great tutioral! I can’t believe Mr. H lets you take his picture. Looks like you two have lots of fun. You are so blessed.

  11. Shailaja says:

    Wow automation. The combine is a marvel. Thanks for letting us ride it and help you harvest a truckload of corn. I loved it.

  12. Kate says:

    That was so fun! Move over Harland, got any room for one more? Thanks for the great tutorial.

  13. Stephanie says:

    How cool is that! I must say this gigantic machine although looks like a monster, it’s a must have for corn farmers!

  14. Stephanie says:

    PS: Thanks for showing these pictures. Now I know how my favourite creamy corn in cans originates/were harvested 😀

  15. Kerry Hand says:

    You do this blog so well

    Kerry Hand
    South Island
    New Zealand

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kerry,
      Thank you! I checked out your blog. What a wonderful beautiful place you live with your mountain view. I’m so jealous.

  16. jane says:

    Fantastic, discriptive post, and really great pictures as usual! I didn’t know the kernels were stripped from the cobs at the same time as the cobs are cut either!

  17. Doe of Mi. says:

    That was a great ride. When I was a teen our combine was a one seater and not enclosed. No AC, no music, but, lots of
    dust! Dirty faces and clothes by the end of the day! And I used to love being in the field. I drove the little Farmall tractor w/the grain trailor behind and collected the grain
    when Dad had the combine was full. Loved it, was alot better
    than doing housework, LOL. Thanks for the ride.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Doe,
      I found pics online yesterday of combines without cabs. I can’t imagine as it is such a dusty dirty job. I’ve heard stories of farmers getting pneumonia from the dust.
      Thank you for your visit.

  18. Suzanne, you rock! That was an awesome post…and tour!! I loved the details…and seeing exactly how the combine works. If I was a farmer, I feel like this particular job would be so gratifying! How awesome it would be to go through the neat rows of corn and suck it all up like a giant vacumm cleaner. Harland probably is so used to doing this, he doesn’t get thrilled about it, but I would be jumping for joy to do that job!!!!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      You’re right about Harland being all ho hum about harvest. When I ride along on the combine, I get all excited and ask a lot of questions, and he does enjoy explaining it.

  19. I just clicked on your link for Harland’s photography. Oh…my…goodnesss!! My mouth dropped open! He is so talented! His photos are absolutely gorgeous! Tell him I am very, very impressed! No wonder he is so patient with you taking all of these photos. That’s awesome! Dang…he is multi talented isn’t he!!

  20. rebecca says:

    AMAZING! i had no idea it de-cobbs as well! you are like the discovery channel.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      In the old days, corn was picked by hand, usually in the winter. The cobs were pulled from the stalk and later the corn kernels were removed from the cob by hand or with a corn sheller.

  21. Julie says:

    Wow! Really neat–I didn’t know how it all worked. Thanks for sharing1

  22. Teresa says:

    This makes me so anxious to see my corn harvested. When my nephew’s grandpa checked the other day, he said my field had the biggest ears! We’re hoping for 180 bushels/acre. What kind of yields do you get in Kansas?

  23. Julie, Farmer in California says:

    Hey Suzanne.

    Loved the pics. Harlands expression is priceless. Made me laugh. I also went on the road in the big truck with my husband last weekend to deliver our Almond Harvest. We are blessed. Hey you had 45 comments on your blog…wow..pretty soon your gonna be like Pioneer Woman..I hope not though cuz I love your replies. Its awesome to chat with ya.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Julie,
      Loved Harland’s expression too. Part of it is that he’s not used to paparazzi in the field with him. 🙂

  24. Gail B says:

    That was awesome! Thanks for sharing the photos 🙂 I thought the corn had to go to yet another plant to get husked and stripped. I bet hubbie thought you were crazy taking photos and that no one would care! Wait, that would be my hubbie LOL Love it!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Gail,
      When I started this blog in March, I don’t think Harland thought anyone would be interested but since then, we’ve been both pleasantly surprised.
      Thank you!

  25. Denise says:

    This is great!!!! This information is so clearly and helpfully presented, and just exactly what I have been wanting to know, as a “city girl” who has never known how corn harvesting worked. Thank you!

  26. Aletha says:

    I thought this was wonderful keep up this site and let me know.

  1. September 10, 2010

    […] Field Corn Harvest […]

  2. September 16, 2010

    […] the days before combines, corn kernels were removed from the cob by hand using a corn sheller. Corn cobs are fed into the […]

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