Harvesting after the Derecho Storm

An aerial view of the Derecho harvest in progress

More than 10 million acres of corn and soybean crops in Iowa were damaged by a derecho storm that swept through portions of the Midwest on Aug. 10. Many farmers are now in the middle of harvesting as much as they can from fields hit by winds that exceeded 100 mph.

News channel WHO13 in Des Moines, Iowa, recently aired a story with the Kokemiller family of Madrid, Iowa. Kody Kokemiller spoke with the station while his father and uncle were harvesting.

Kokemiller told the station he was pleased with the results considering the damage their crops experienced. He went on to credit the technology in the family's John Deere harvester with helping during a challenging harvest.

"Thank God for technology because right now he's able to use his GPS, which … looking from the cab it's impossible to find a row with the way it's lodged and fell over," he noted. "They've got little whisker feelers that can feel where the row is and keep the combine on the row."

The technology Kokemiller refers to—John Deere RowSense™—has spring-loaded feelers on each side of one row of corn. These feelers guide the combine to follow the row, so it goes straight into the stalk rolls and gathering chains, which allows it to pick up the bent over corn, explained Matt Harney, location manager at Van Wall Equipment, the local John Deere dealership.

"Without this technology it is very easy to not stay on the row and you end up not picking up the corn and driving over it and it is also very stressful on the operator," Harney said. "We have found this technology works the best in the down corn as it allows the stalk rolls to pull the trash through the head down to the ground compared to running a corn reel that tends to break the stalk off and pull it through the combine."