This article originally appeared on FarmWeek Now.

There’s no argument that 2020 has been a memorable year, but despite challenges, the soybean crop across the state looks promising. As we approach harvest, it’s important you are prepared to finish the season strong. Here are five tips for prepping for the 2020 soybean harvest.

1. Be proactive in getting technologies set and calibrated

  • Yield monitors: Determine if software updates are necessary, preload your fields and review how to operate.
  • Digital services: Make sure subscriptions and software are up to date.
  • As-applied data: Make sure variety information is accurate and other as-applied treatments are correctly entered. This will allow for quicker validation once yield data starts coming in.
  • Moisture testers: Now’s a great time to properly calibrate moisture testers with your local elevator.

2. Are you mentally prepared to avoid HEAVY weedy spots during harvest?

Several soybean fields this year have areas that were damaged from wet spring weather and now are only growing weeds like waterhemp. Be mentally prepared to avoid harvesting these areas and communicate this with other combine operators. The value in grain will not offset the cost to control the weed seeds that will be broadcast across the field. Avoiding weeds now will save you time for many years to come. Also, pay special attention to these spots during tillage to avoid spreading the seed.

3. Prepare your combine

In some fields across the state, soybeans are shorter than usual due to the growing season. For harvest, make sure floating head adjustments are set correctly or fixed and change out all sickles.

Harvested soybean grain may vary in size from field to field. Make the proper calibrations and be willing to adjust from field to field to offset for potential seed size variation. This can bring more beans to the bin.

4. Preharvest logistics and game plan

Operation sizes have grown over the years, so it’s increasingly important to have a harvest game plan and review tasks for the harvesting crew. What type of proactive maintenance is expected of the crew every day (greasing equipment, cleaning, machinery checks, etc.)? Regular maintenance can save you time during harvest waiting for parts.

Another important preharvest step is to organize a harvest crew safety meeting. Make sure everyone knows what to do and who to call if there is a problem. Everyone should have emergency contact numbers in their cellphone … just in case!

It’s also important to clean out trucks and grain carts — specifically if grain is going to premium markets like GMO corn or specialty soybeans — to minimize dust and prevent contamination.

5. Monitor field drydown for optimum harvest

Planting dates, maturities planted and management systems all impact harvest dates and can impact variability of drydown. Fields with significant compounding stress will dry sooner. Fields that are happy and healthy may take just a little longer to reach desired moisture. However, don’t wait too long, or you could end up with shattered pods. You also should be on the lookout for issues that could arise from green stem or pod issues.

There are currently several studies going on in the state to determine if a chemical application can help speed up the drydown of soybeans. Now would be a great opportunity to start asking the WHY and HOW. This may be an option to try in 2020 and could be used for future years.

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About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.