Bob Bowman, a northeast Iowa farmer, has worked through two badly lodged crops since 2000. “The whole key is to get at it early and not worry too much about grain moisture. You need to harvest while there’s still some integrity, some residual life, in the stalks so they will hang together,” he says.

“One year I started on the downed corn, then harvested my standing corn before I came back to finish the downed corn,” he recalls. “By then the stalks had dried out and instead of feeding into the machine, they just broke off.

“Then I had an additional problem with an early snow, and that goes into the combine and plugs the machine up. I figure I put several years of wear onto my combine in just one year.”

In 2011, Bowman found that equipment advances had made his job easier. “When we strip till, we use RTK GPS autosteering to put our fertilizer right into the strip,” he says. “Last year my corn was down so bad I couldn’t see to follow the rows, so I loaded data from the RTK into the computer so the combine knew where the rows were. That way I wasn’t crossing rows. It was a huge help for the harvest and my temperament.”