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New balers speed hay production, boost quality

Apr 30, 2023Apr 30, 2023

These may be the best of times for upper Midwest haymakers.

Persistently dry conditions in much of the key hay production areas of the western and southern Great Plains has had a significant impact on the hay crop. Large swaths of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, according to recent U.S. Drought Monitor maps.

Hay producers located in areas that experienced plentiful winter snow cover and spring moisture are being rewarded with top prices for their hay. In fact, premium alfalfa and grass bales are fetching $240-$260 ton, according to the USDA's recent weekly Iowa Direct Hay Report. Even run-of-the-mill grass hay is netting $175/ton.

If you are in the market for a new baler or mower-conditioner, you have more choices than ever as hay tool manufacturers continue to roll out new products designed to increase output, preserve quality, reduce and simplify maintenance.

Leading off the list of new entries in the marketplace are the new RB6 HD Pro series round balers from Case IH. Built to shine in wet and heavy silage, the new HD Pro balers were designed with fewer moving parts and chains, reducing overall maintenance and repair costs.

The new RB6 HD round balers are designed to meet the needs of today's high bale count producers.

Other new features include a heavy-duty drive system, a beefy main gear box and a wide 82-inch pickup — upgrades that can help gobble up big windrows and speed up haymaking in tough silage conditions. An in-cab density control lets operators set both core and outer densities to match storing needs.

Other upgrades on the 5x6 RB565 Premium model include a new heavy-duty drive option featuring beefier chains and sprockets, heavier main gear box and higher capacity clutch — all with the goal of boosting durability.

For smaller-scale haymakers, the new 4x5 RB456A standard baler offers a 30% wider pickup, stuffer feeding system and upgraded wrapping system — upgrades that can make a sizeable difference in haymaking productivity.

"These welcome additions to our hay equipment portfolio further bolster a suite of performance-enhancing tools growers know and love," said Brian Spencer, Case IH hay and forage marketing manager.

The all-new Pro-Belt balers from New Holland promise a new class of high performance and reliability.

New Holland has also announced important additions to its family of round balers, with the Pro-Belt Series promising "a new class of performance and reliability," according to the company.

Designed with high-output producers and commercial hay operators in mind, the new Pro-Belt Series feature heavier duty components like the TwinDrive gearbox to provide greater season-long reliability and more uptime.

Two models are available, the 4x5 Model 450 and 4x6 Model 460. The balers can be configured with a choice of rotary feeding and cutting systems designed to improve throughput and hay quality. An ActiveDrop floor system is standard and helps to reduce plugging. Automatic chain oiling and convenient banked grease zerks are standard and help to speed and simplify maintenance.

The new Pro-Belt models are available with premium electronics that work with a customer's virtual terminal display and ISOBUS connection or with New Holland's IntelliView touchscreen display. Operators can adjust numerous features and activate IntelliBale baler automation to automate the baling cycle with a compatible tractor.

"When baling is your business, Pro-Belt balers are built to deliver more bales on the ground and performance your operation can depend on," said Jordan Milewski, New Holland hay tools marketing manager.

New Holland has also introduced the Roll-Belt 450 Utility Plus — a simple, rugged design that is ideal for smaller farms and livestock operations. The 450 Utility Plus produces dense 4x5 bales and can be operated with tractors as low as 45 PTO horsepower. Compared to the previous roll-belt model, the new unit also offers a 35% wider pickup and a mechanical stuffer for improved feeding, more bales a day.

In other news from New Holland, the company has announced that it is returning the legendary Hayliner name to its small square balers.

And here's good news if you own a Hesston small square baler: AGCO has recently introduced SimplEbale, an electronic aftermarket monitoring and control system that retrofits onto new and existing Massey-Ferguson Hesston 1800 series small square balers.

As the name implies, the system simplifies the work needed to make consistently high-quality bales for operators of all experience levels.

The SimplEbale kit will include the sensors, components and harnesses needed to update the baler's operating system. These components will give operators increased visibility of machine operation and real-time updates of the bale being produced. The new SimplEbale retrofit kit will be available in limited quantities for 2024.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new mower-conditioner, Pella-based Vermeer has launched a new line of mid-sized trailed mowers. Designed to consistently deliver a clean cut in all conditions, the Vermeer TM105, TM120 and TM135 trailed mowers offer respective cutting widths of 10.7 feet, 12 feet and 13.5 feet. Heavy-duty frames, large tires and heavy-duty cutting bar add up to more haymaking, less maintenance.

Rick Haun has more than 35 years’ experience writing about ag and industrial equipment, much of that time with John Deere. He resides in Shawnee, Kansas.

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