View Full Version : Corn Harvest and heat

Steve Ash
11-27-2006, 3:27 PM
The two things I miss the most about farming is spring planting and fall harvest, corn harvest being at the top of my list.

Gary (the guy that farms my little chunk of paradise) showed up today to combine the corn and he let me ride in the cab with him, Wow things have sure changed from the way we used to do it. In his cab is a GPS, monitor, all the goodies. At the time I rode with him the monitor was reading yields in the 160-180 bushels per acre range and 17 - 17.8 % moisture.

I snapped some pictures of him while running the corn, and his equiptment....John Deere, gosh I like this guy!

As some of you remember we put in a corn furnace to heat our home...looks like I'm gonna be warm.

Ken Fitzgerald
11-27-2006, 4:09 PM
Steve..........As a HS student in Illinois I helped harvest corn. Those days the corn pickers ran up each side of the tractor....dangerous devices. As a 5-6 year old...I helped my grandfathers and uncles in southern Indiana harvest corn. I rode on the horse drawn wagon with bankboards while my maternal grandfather and uncles walked along each hand shucking two rows as they went. It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized I wasn't "driving" those horses......Grandpa's quiet voice commands had more control with that team than I did....:D

Barry Stratton
11-27-2006, 4:14 PM
Cool pics Steve, thanks!

And keep us posted on how you like the corn stove......I'm thinking of getting one next year after the move.

Scott Loven
11-27-2006, 4:32 PM
You ought to see what one of those big boys look like coming down the road at you with the corn head covering the entire road with a few feet of overhang on each side to boot!

John Schreiber
11-27-2006, 6:24 PM
Some great pics Steve. I used to work at a big elevator at harvest and the farmers were a great bunch of guys and gals. The danger was that they were usually working 20 hours per day, exhausted and driving over-weight and under-maintained rigs. In fact, there's an exception in Illinois for the CDL license during harvest time for farm family members.

Part of my job was to stand in front of the trucks and guide them to the bins. Always careful and too often dangerous. But I miss those times. Harvesting is one of the wonders of this earth.

Robert Mickley
11-27-2006, 6:46 PM
Gotta love big toys!!!

I have nephew that put one in a couple years ago. I helped him with installing it and I was amazed at the amount of heat that little fire cranked out. His house is always taosty warm and its an old early 1900's farmhouse with little insulation and poor windows.

My nephew found the best way to to deal with corn was to pick corn this year and store it in a crib for next year.

Charles McKinley
11-28-2006, 10:51 AM
The only thing that will wow you more than the features on that combine is the price tag. Make sure you are sitting down when you ask what it cost new.

John Kain
11-28-2006, 11:10 AM
The only thing that will wow you more than the features on that combine is the price tag. Make sure you are sitting down when you ask what it cost new.
And that's not even a "big one". Deere make a 12 row cutterhead to go with the big machines. I think Cat makes an even bigger machine!

Pete Lamberty
11-28-2006, 12:12 PM
Hi Steve, Nice to see what is happening in different parts of the country. I'm a city boy myself so please don't laugh to hard at my questions. Why does a farmer need to have a GPS monitor on his combine? Also how does a corn furnace work? Is it like a wood burning stove that burns just the corn cobs? Or does it burn the stalk too? Do you fill up a hoper and it feeds itself? Okay, I'll wait until you dry your eyes for an answer. :D Thanks Pete

Carl Eyman
11-28-2006, 12:45 PM
My Dad (born 1896) grew up in central IL -about 25 miles west of Quincy. He used to tell me of harvest time when they had a crew of a dozen or more friends and neighbors in to help. The women folk had to do the cooking. What a difference! What a difference in the yields also. We don't give the farming community (and I include the machinery manufacturers and seed people) enough credit for the efficiency they have achieved in providing food for all of us.

Dan Oelke
11-28-2006, 3:40 PM
Pete - no such thing as a stupid question.

To answer some of your questions - the corn burners usually just take the corn kernels and burn them. They work just about like wood pellets. Easy to move, store, obtain and relatively cheap. (Price of corn is 50% more this year than last...) You pour the shelled corn into a hopper in the top/back of the stove and it will automatically feed a few kernels at a time into a burn pot. There are a lot of different features and styles of corn burners as well as some that will burn a 50/50 mixture of corn and wood pellets as well as some that only burn wood pellets or only corn.

One thing to remember with corn stoves is that they are more responsive than wood stoves in the amount of heat they give off - but they are less responsive than forced air. Most of them are only 40k or 50k BTU units (some corn furnaces are bigger) and as such will take a while to warm up a house. I have one that I love. It has been keeping my good sized house warm by itself this fall. Even in January in MN it will mostly keep the house warm with the regular furnace kicking in just a little in the wee hours of the morning or if it is -10F.

The GPS in the combine allows you to later take positional information along with monitored information about yield and moisture content to draw a pretty cool map that shows exactly what parts of the field yielded better and which parts could benefit from better fertilizer or weed control the next year.

Pete Lamberty
11-28-2006, 4:20 PM
Thanks for the info Dan! I am surprised that a corn furnace actually burns the kernels of corn. Do they give off more heat per pound of kernels compared to wood pellets or wood logs? The GPS in a combine makes sense now that you have explained the reason for it. Before, I thought it would be hard to get lost in your own corn field. Even if the corn grew higher than the combine. :D

Steve Ash
11-28-2006, 4:35 PM
Pete, Dan pretty much nailed it, one thing I'll add about the GPS is that Gary will put that data into the corn planter when he plants corn here next time and will be able to increase the population in the areas that did better.

Here is the info about the corn furnace I bought, since we can't post links I did a copy/paste.


In these times of high energy costs, it makes sense to use a heat source that utilizes a resource that is readily available and cost effective. The A-Maize-Ing Heat® furnace and boiler burn shelled corn, a renewable local commodity. Corn costs less per BTU than other heat sources, plus benefits the local economy by generating business for farmers. The low cost of shelled corn, together with the efficient burning process of this furnace or boiler, produces an ecologically safe home heating system.

The A-Maize-Ing Heat® furnace and boiler feed the corn into the bottom of the combustion chamber, therefore providing the most efficient fuel consumption. The residual ashes are then spilled over the top of the combustion ring into the ash pan. This process, in effect, self cleans the combustion chamber.

The A-Maize-Ing Heat® furnace and boiler are the first shelled corn fired central furnace and residential boiler to be listed by Underwriters Laboratories. Using a dual auger drive system to meter the fuel allows for the precise and safe control of combustion. The UL listing assures you of a safe and quality product.

Your home's thermostat electronically controls the fuel feed system and blower to provide a constant temperature. The furnace or boiler will remain lit as long as the bin contains corn, and will shut down automatically if the fuel supply is depleted. The low stack temperature and absence of creosote buildup eliminates the possibility of chimney fires.

The A-Maize-Ing Heat® corn burning furnace and boiler have many advantages over wood heat. There is no daily maintenance. With 100,000 BTU or 165,000 BTU output you could easily heat an entire house. The large storage bin holds up to 10 days supply of fuel, which is automatically fed, into the combustion chamber as needed. There's no need to load the furnace several times a day. The use of corn also eliminates the bark mess, insects, splinters, and storage & handling problems connected with wood fuel. No chainsaws, wood splitters, or trailers to buy and maintain.

An LDJ A-Maize-Ing Heat® system can also burn other biomass fuels including wood pellets, wheat, grain, sorghum, soybeans, fruit pits, pelletized waste or other pelletized combustable materials that can be fed through the 2" augers.

The A-Maize-Ing Heat® furnace and boiler feature quality construction for long-lasting performance. 14-gauge steel is used on the heat exchanger, and a large heavy cast iron fire pot ensures long life. A one year warranty is included on electrical parts, and a five year limited warranty on the burner and heat exchanger. LDJ Mfg Inc of Pella, Iowa builds their products with pride.

John Miliunas
11-28-2006, 4:53 PM
Well shucks, I see them kind o' picks without ever leaving my house around here! :D

Our friends up the road (farmers, of course) installed a corn burning stove in their parlor last year. They simply love it! Not cheap to buy but, they have a readily available fuel source! And yes, low maintenance and easy cleanup. Don't get much better than that, does it? :) :cool:

Frank Chaffee
11-30-2006, 3:31 PM
Due largely to demand for corn in ethanol production, corn prices are nearly double now than a year ago. The U.S. Dept of Agriculture forecasts that next year’s corn acreage will be the largest since 1946, when the U.S. helped feed post-World War II Europe.

…And from The Timetables of American History, Laurence Urdang, Ed.:
“1789- First organized temperance group is formed by 200 farmers in Connecticut, who pledge not to drink alcoholic beverages during farming season.”

I guess back in the good old days farming must not have been a year-round occupation.

Frank Chaffee