The people who offer corn reels that help pick up down corn are busy in years where storms are frequent across the Corn Belt. This is one of those years. There is corn that was knocked down at various stages in Indiana, and that has came back up to varying degrees. But the real damage appears to be from a mid-summer storm that swept across thousands to dozens of thousands of acres in states to the west and north of Indiana.
Hawkins Manufacturing, Holdredge, Nebraska, makes one of those add-on reels. They introduced a new feature this year- fore and aft adjustment of the reel hydraulically from the combine cab. In the past, the operator had to stop the combine, take out four bolts, make the adjustment, and hope the adjustment he or she made actually helped. Now with the optional feature they can make the adjustment, or as many adjustments as they want based on the limitations of the machine, right from the cab.
The option is available to retrofit on existing Hawkins reels as well as be included in an order for a new reel. The only problem is that sales have been so brisk that they are temporarily sold out of the new for-aft adjustment option. Spokespersons attribute strong sales and interest to the fact that farmers in the hard-hit areas by summer storms realize this is one all when the reels won't set unused in the back of the barn. They may be standard operating equipment in many cases, even on farms with newer combines and newer heads, which tend to handle down corn better than older heads made 15 to 20 years ago.
One merchant for these reels says one of his salesman has adopted a unique selling technique. Being a pilot, he offers to take would-be customers up to look at heir fields from the air. What they're finding, the salesman notes, is that even in areas there storms hit, and the field looks undamaged from the outside, there may be reasonably large pockets within a big field that were mangled by the storm. Many return from the flight and want to purchase a reel.An unusually high number of reports of wind damage and hail is just one of the factors feeding in to uncertainty about the final corn yield this year. Normally there are storms somewhere, but the number of areas of damage and the extent of damage in many of those areas seems unusually high this year. Some fields were a lost cause due to green snap during the storm. But many were blown down, called root lodging, not caused by insects but by shallow roots after a wet spring and a big wind event, and many of those have tried to recover. Those are the areas where a reel may aid in getting through the mangled stalks easier, preventing excess losses in the field.