Two-week wait for rain to halt

17 November 2000

Two-week wait for rain to halt

WET ground conditions suspended maize harvesting operations by two weeks for contractor John Dewer, who harvests (445ha) 1100 acres over a 40 mile radius from his base near Aldham, Suffolk.

"We eventually got going on Sept 16, although our first job took a fortnight rather than the usual six days due to the conditions," says Mr Dewer. "We started down in Essex and the wet weather forced us to leave 22 acres, which will have be harvested later."

Saturated ground led Mr Dewer to fill his three 15t trailers part full to reduce rutting and, in extreme cases, a load of maize had to be tipped on the ground to prevent the trailer from sinking axle-deep.

Despite this, Mr Dewer reports none of the trailers became totally stuck and his self-propelled Class Jaguar 840 forager caused only minimal rutting due to its pair of wide floatation tyres.

Soil damage was also reduced by increasing the width of headlands so the Jaguar did not have to turn so tightly.

Workrates for the Jaguar 840 fitted with a six-row Kemper header were down to 14ha a day (35 acres) for the first fortnight, which increased to 24ha a day (60 acres) when conditions improved.

To speed up the operation, crop cut height was increased from 20cm to 30cm (8in to 12in), with the Jaguar set up to produce a longer chop length from 8mm to 15mm due to excess moisture carried within the crop, Mr Dewer says. "Despite the first two weeks of wet weather, we managed to make a good recovery by employing men and machines 15 hours a day to catch up," adds Mr Dewer. "Luckily, maize carting caused not too much mud to be left on road. The majority of our customers are very prompt when it comes to cleaning up after us." &#42

The puddle says it all. John Drewers forager awaits drier times.

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