Michanical Corn Harvesters

The Lost Ways

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Corn Binder Rarely used anymore, a corn binder could still be handy on a homestead if one could be found in running order. Just as with grain, the binder cuts the stalks of corn with a small reciprocating sickle bar, then bunches and binds the stalks into bundles with an automatic tier. Binders were made for use with both horses and tractors, and some were powered by the tractor's power take-off.

Corn Picker The commonly accepted colloquial name for the machine that replaced binders and the old method of harvesting corn is a corn picker. The picker strips the ear off the stalk as the machine moves down the row, husks the ear, and tosses it into a trailing wagon, leaving the stalk standing. One-row pickers are commonly available in the Corn Belt region of the United States and would suit many small homestead operations.


Mechanical single- or multiple-row pickers are equipped with snapping roils to remove the cobs from the standing stalks. The power required to operate the machine is provided by the tractor's power take-off shaft, although self-propelled units or those mounted integrally on the tractor are also available. The machine is provided with a gatherer, or header, which guides the standing stalks in a row along a throat to the revolving, snapping rolls, where the cobs are pinched and snapped from the stalk. The cobs then drop onto an elevator system for conveyance to a trailer which is drawn beside or behind the machine. Most harvesters do not cut the stalks from the ground.

A simple, snapper type of corn harvester does not remove the husks from the cob, while a picker-busker is equipped with a husker attachment for removing the husks after snapping. A more recently developed machine is capable of shelling corn in the field after snapping and husking; another type can also shred the standing stalk after the cobs have been removed. Corn harvesters are generally classified according to the number of rows harvested and the way in which the machines arc attached to the tractor.

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