Farmer Forum Recap: How to Set Up Combine Headers for Weed Seed Capture

In GROW’s third Farmer Forum of the season, Australian combine experts presented on how to set up a combine header to capture the most weed seeds. 

The international team explained how and why farmers should test and figure out where they lose the most weed seed and grain from the header during harvest. They talked through the different headers such as drapers or augurs and how farmers can calibrate their reel, speed and other technical specs to maximize weed seed and grain capture. The special challenges of corn headers were discussed, as were specialty products such as corn header brushes, air reels and Duck Foot paddles. Finally, the group hashed out how different weed species behave when they are processed by a combine header, a key detail since American farmers are dealing with a different range of late-season weed escapes. 

Here is the video’s breakdown: 

00:00:00 – Start
00:00:28 – Breakdown of Australian v. American combine terminology
00:02:11 – Objectives: Going over the basics of Harvester/Combine Set-up
00:03:54 – Start with knowing where on the combine weed losses occur
00:08:29 – Header adjustments to maximize seed capture: Reel calibration, speed and attack angle
00:16:41 – Why the targeted weed species matter for weed seed capture
00:19:03 – Corn header challenges with capturing weed seeds
00:23:42 – Draper and other combine header front set-ups
00:29:25 – Measuring weed seed and grain losses: Why and How
00:33:33 – Seed retention, where losses occur and reel calibration
00:44:27 – Combine feeder house considerations
00:50:35 – Combine Header Q&A
00:50:54 – Q&A Using corn header brushes
00:53:21 – Q&A Draper header gaps between belts
00:57:35 – Q&A Air reels/Air -assist system, efficiency, results in different crops
01:04:27 – Q&A How to test and measure losses from the combine header
01:14:25 – Q&A Duck Foot paddle tines effect on weed shatter
01:16:26 – What we’ll focus on next: threshing, separating straw from chaff, and avoiding rotor loss

GROW’s Farmer Forum series is connecting harvest weed seed control experts from Australia and Canada with U.S. farmers who are working to adopt the technology – namely chaff lining and seed impact mills, also known as weed seed destructors. 

The next Farmer Forum, scheduled for October 20, will cover the technical details of how a combine’s feeder house must be altered to work with chaff lining chutes and weed seed destructors. For more details on how to attend that upcoming session, contact Emily Unglesbee at

For more details on harvest weed seed control, see GROW’s website here:

Video editing by Claudio Rubione; Text by Emily Unglesbee