Row By Row / January 2024

A Sure Sign You’re Losing Yield: Deck Plate Wear

Farmers may be familiar with the telltale signs of yield loss at the corn head: ears bouncing out of the head or kernels pinging off the windshield. But there’s another sign that main-line head owners may not be aware of: deck plate wear.

This wear occurs when cornstalks are processed entirely in the first few inches of the knife rollers, causing them to be pulled through the plates at the same spot and creating an irregular wear pattern. Excessive wear can show up as an indentation on the plate or, in extreme cases, wear that goes all the way through the plate. The cause: Intermeshing knives on high-speed, shorter knife rollers that do not allow the plants to travel down the length of the row unit as they’re processed.

Excessive wear is a clear indication that you’re losing yield. It’s a sign that plants are being pulled down hard and fast near the front of the head, which can cause shattering and ear bounce. As the wear increases, so does the gap between deck plates, leading to more potential yield loss. This rapid stalk processing can also increase the amount of trash going into the combine and impact its ability to efficiently process grain.

Drago corn heads are equipped with deck plates that have a thicker, rolled edge that wears more evenly. With automatic self-adjusting deck plates, Drago corn heads center the stalk in the row, thus creating a more even wear along the deck plate itself.    

Drago corn heads are equipped with the longest knife rollers in the industry for a reason—to increase stalk processing time and reduce yield loss. Their opposed knives are designed to grab and release stalks, allowing them to travel up the length of the row unit. Their smaller diameter enables them to spin at a lower RPM and more gently process stalks to reduce butt shelling and ear bounce without sacrificing ground speed. The added plant processing time also reduces the amount of trash entering the combine.

Drago knife roller blades are offset to grab and release cornstalks so they’re processed the entire length of the row unit.
A knife-to-knife design pinches, pulls and opens up — allowing plants to move farther back into the corn head before the ear is removed.

Drago knife rollers are just one of many features designed with yield capture in mind. Automatic self-adjusting deck plates, aggressive out-front gathering chains and the industry’s lowest head profile are just a few features that help capture more yield at harvest and maximize ROI.  Explore our Drago GT row unit 360-degree model for an up-close look at the design.

Learn more about our knife rolls and impact compared to other brands here