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Baling Tips for Superior Hay Quality

Whether you choose large-round, large-square or small-square bales, making high-quality bales that preserve hay quality, maximize protection from the weather, and are easy to store or transport boils down to following a few rules.Bailing Tips

The first, and most basic rule, is simplest of all: “Get out of the tractor, and check your baler and the first bales from a field to make sure adjustments are right, so the density and shape of the bales are correct,” says Dean Morrell, AGCO Product Marketing Manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay products.

“The biggest mistake people make is moving too fast when they start baling. They don’t get out of the tractor to verify that everything is right, and if it is not, to tweak adjustments until it is,” he says. “The same rule applies to cutting, conditioning and raking. It’s a missed opportunity if you don’t get out of the tractor cab.”

Adjusting a baler to produce high-quality bales is relatively straightforward, says Morrell. Of course, by starting with windrows that are uniform in width and in the amount of hay they contain, producers help ensure bales are consistent in shape and density. Also, windrows that are as large as possible to meet the baler capacity help minimize the amount of loss during the baling process when hay is at its driest and most subject to leaf loss from handling.

Operating manuals provide a full rundown on how to set balers to make dense bales that are consistent in size and shape. Here are Morrell’s quick tips for doing the job right:
• Set baler pickup tines about one inch above the ground. This helps prevent contaminating the hay with dirt, which raises ash percentages and reduces digestibility. Baler wear and tear caused by picking up stones also is reduced or eliminated.
• Set the hay pickup flotation so that the pickup follows the contour of the ground at or just above the tine height setting. If the tines aren’t digging into the dirt, the flotation setting is about right. Regularly check the hay pickup for bent or broken tines and replace them as necessary. Be sure to stock up on replacement parts before the hay season begins.
• Synchronize the field speed and the baler pickup speed so the hay is lifted from the windrow and flows into the bale chamber. Pickup loss is lower when windrows are heavy because the baler is operated at a slower field speed, and there is less contact between the hay and the baler components.
• Bale chamber loss, particularly of the valuable leaves, is typically two to three times greater in round balers compared to square balers. To minimize bale chamber losses in round balers, the feed rate should be as high as possible to minimize the number of turns the hay makes within the bale chamber. This can be accomplished by using large windrows and high forward speeds. Since pickup losses are normally lower than chamber losses, it’s usually better to have some pickup loss by driving faster but reducing the amount of time it takes to form the bale.
• Monitor bale density. Even if your baler has a density gauge, it is still critical to get out of the cab and “thump” bales to verify that the density is high enough so that bales hold their shape and provide maximum protection from the elements. “You really don’t want to be able to stick your fingers into the bale,” Morrell says. “If you kick the bale, it should hurt your foot.”
• Follow drive directional arrows on the baler monitor to make sure hay is fed consistently across the width of the bale chamber so bales have square shoulders. This helps round bales shed moisture, and improves stacking attributes of square bales.
• Hay moisture at baling is a critical factor in determining superior hay quality and long storage life. Assessing moisture before baling depends on whether it is stem moisture or moisture from dew. The moisture present from dew will seep through the hay to some degree, while stem moisture will not. When the stem moisture is too high, spoilage can occur. Moisture at baling for large square bales should be no greater than 12 to 15 percent; for round bales, no greater than 16 to 20 percent; and no greater than 18 to 20 percent for small-square bales. The exception to this rule is when hay preservative is applied during baling, which allows hay to be baled with moisture content up to 30 percent.
• To reduce leaf shatter and resulting nutrient losses, avoid baling when hay moisture is too low.
• Make sure all operators know how to adjust the baler for top quality.
• Keep up to date on regular maintenance to ensure peak machine performance. Be sure to visit your local dealer to stock up on pickup tines, common bearings, chain repairs, belts, shear bolts and other common repairs before the hay season starts to minimize downtime from common breakdowns. Dealers often have a list of recommended parts for on-farm stocking and may offer preseason discounts for parts purchases.
Hesston has been providing innovation and solutions to farmers since 1947, and is the industry leader in hay-harvesting products. For more information about Hesston by Massey Ferguson products or to find a dealer near you, visit

Happy 3rd Anniversary!

Although it seems like yesterday, three years ago today we launched the AGCO Blog. We’d like to give a big thanks to our readers and contributors; we appreciate you continuing to read, respond and engage on our blog! Our goal remains to give our visitors – a global mix of farmers, agriculture industry professionals, investors and AGCO employees around the world – the opportunity to take a look inside AGCO and our brands, as well as interact with us. It also serves as a platform to exchange information, find answers, and get expert advice from one another. 2013_4_10_blog_anniversary_v2

As we look back during the past year, we wanted to share some of your favorite blog posts:

Top 3 Blog Posts from Past Year:

  1. AGCO Launches Mobile App for Professional Farmers – The announcement of our new mobile app, AGCOMMAND, an innovative app for farmers around the world.
  2. Massey Ferguson 9500 series Combine Proudly Waves the Maple Leaf – Featuring an image of a combine wrapped in the Canadian flag.
  3. AGCO Publishes First Sustainability Report – When AGCO published the first global sustainability report.

There were many great blog posts throughout the year, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future. Share in the comments below which blog post was your favorite.

We look forward to many more years of bringing you the best in agriculture!

Raking Tips for Superior Hay Quality

A good raking job can be the difference between quality hay and uneven bales that are subject to spoilage.Hesston Hay Tips 04 2013

Whether you are cutting, conditioning, raking or baling, all steps in the process of making high-quality hay require attention to detail. Any slip-ups along the way can compromise the end result. Raking is perhaps the most critical step in the process, as more leaf loss can be caused by improper raking than by any other step in the harvest process.

“A good job of raking can make baling high-quality hay relatively easy,” says Dean Morrell, AGCO hay and forage product marketing manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson and a 35-year veteran of the quality hay business. “On the other hand, if raking is done poorly, the result can be poor-quality bales that are subject to spoilage.” Morrell reminds producers to avoid raking alfalfa or clover when the forage moisture is less than 35 to 40 percent to prevent the loss of nutrient-dense leaves. Leaves contain two-thirds of the protein and 75 percent of the total digestible nutrients (TDN) in alfalfa hay.

Raking can’t be avoided, because this process gathers a mowed swath into a windrow or gathers two or more windrows into one for more efficient baling. By creating windrows that are uniform in width and in the amount of hay they contain, producers help ensure bales are consistent in shape and density. Also, by creating windrows as large as possible to meet the baler capacity, the amount of loss during the baling process can be minimized when hay is at its driest and most subject to leaf loss from handling.

In addition to proper timing and technique, properly setting the rake ensures good results. Overall, wheel rakes are simplest to set, but rotary rakes, which have more adjustments, often provide superior results, with less dirt contamination in the hay, and therefore less ash, which reduces forage digestibility. Check the operator’s manuals for full details on best practices for setting and operating your style of rake for superior hay production.

Here are several tips on how to set and operate rakes. Except where indicated, tips are for rotary rakes:

  • Set rake tines of rotary rakes to skim just above the ground, so they don’t dig up dirt, contaminating the hay and wearing down tines unnecessarily. Set wheel rakes to have as little contact with the ground as possible.
  • Make sure rotary rake bogey wheels beneath the rotor are level. The rotor should have one-half to 1 inch of ground clearance on all sides at all times.
  • Set the tine arm release based on crop conditions and the size windrow you desire. A dry, fluffy crop requires an earlier release setting. For a heavy, wet crop, use a later release setting.
  • For maximum drying, set the windrow as wide as possible.
  • If the rake is PTO driven, synchronize the field speed and PTO speed for a gentle lifting and turning action. This helps avoid aggressive handling that can cause excessive leaf loss.
  • Operate the rake at a consistent speed to create an even windrow for uniform drying and fewer slugs of wet, bunched hay, thus allowing hay to be fed smoothly and evenly into the baler for superior baler performance. The end result will be high-quality bales and reduced risk of crop spoilage.
  • Stay up to date on regular maintenance to ensure peak machine performance including daily greasing of pivot points and hinges. Tighten bolts and replace broken or worn tines. Check tire inflation regularly.
  • Be sure to visit your local dealer to stock up on replacement tines and basket and rake wheel bearings before the season starts to minimize downtime from common breakdowns. Dealers often have a list of parts recommended for on-farm stocking and may offer preseason discounts for parts purchases.

Hesston has been providing innovation and solutions to farmers since 1947, and is the industry leader in hay-harvesting products. For more information about Hesston by Massey Ferguson products or to find a dealer near you, visit

Jack Wiegand Sets Out To Be The Youngest Pilot To Fly Solo Around The World

AGCO is proud to support Jack’s world record-breaking mission to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world and break the current Guinness Book of World Records™ title in May 2013 in a project called SOLO 20/13. solo 2013

A Fresno, California native, Wiegand, 20, plans on breaking the current record held by Carlo Schmidt of Switzerland who was 22 years old when he took the title.

Wiegand will depart on this historical voyage in early May from Fresno and head east making 24 stops, flying approximately 21,000 nautical miles, crossing three oceans and visiting 14 different countries. Wiegand will circumnavigate the world in a high-performance Mooney Ovation2 GX for the trip that is expected to take no more than 50 days.

The title of the mission, SOLO 20/13, holds personal significance to Wiegand as it highlights some key elements of his journey, in that he began flying at the age of 13, he will take off on his SOLO flight in the year 2013, and will be 20 years-old when he attempts to break the Guinness Book of World Records™ title.

“I think finishing the trip will just be an amazing feeling, having accomplished something that big,” said Jack Wiegand. With the success of the SOLO 20/13 mission, Jack will realize his long awaited dream of flying around the world and have the opportunity to inspire others to dream big and to never stop exploring.

This expedition will not only be one of historic achievement but will also be utilized as a platform to raise awareness and support for worthy charitable causes. These organizations include Big Brothers Big Sisters, invested in building relationships with children facing adversity, and the Ag Warriors project of the International Agri- Center, benefitting returning veterans by preparing them for careers in the agriculture industry.

For more information on SOLO 20/13 please visit

White Planters Introduces 9000 Series

White Planters today introduced its new 9000 Series, featuring the Model 9812-30 forward-fold, narrow-transport row-crop planter. With an enhanced seed meter design and a new cast-design row unit, the 9000 Series reaffirms White Planters’ reputation for delivering precise seed placement and machine longevity with minimal maintenance. Available with a full range of options and attachments, the new planters may be configured to fit any production system, from conventional to no-till and to plant crops ranging from corn, soybeans and sunflowers to sorghum, sugar beets or peanuts. White Planters 9812 30 row crop planter 72dpi 04112013

“The new 9000 Series is ideal for row-crop producers who expect exceptional performance in the field and appreciate simple planter maintenance and operation,” says Gary Hamilton, product marketing specialist with White Planters. “We’ve been building durable, long-lasting planters for nearly 40 years, and we’ve learned what it takes to deliver seed placement accuracy in a wide range of conditions.

“The extensive redesign of the 9000 Series puts it all together in one package and makes this the most significant introduction in a dozen years for White Planters,” Hamilton adds. The 9000 Series builds upon White Planters’ exclusive edge-drop technology: simple, positive-air seed metering system and reputation for long life. Keys to these 9000 Series planters’ improved accuracy are the redesigned seed meter and row unit.

The enhanced design of White Planters’ 9000 Series seed meter offers more consistent, uniform air pressure throughout the full circumference of the seed meter to gently, yet securely hold each seed in a seed cell until it is released into the seed tube. A longer, tapered cutoff brush helps hold even light seed, such as sunflower, in the seed cell to ensure critical seed singulation. In addition, White Planters’ positive-air metering system means the planter is far less impacted by changes in airflow or leaks and also eliminates the need for annual maintenance of seals required by vacuum-based systems.

The new cast row unit consists of only three components, reducing part count by 70 percent and providing greater strength and durability for long life. Machined assembly points also enhance durability and ensure precise alignment of all components. Maintenance has been minimized with the elimination of grease zerks in the row unit itself, and accessing the seed meter, removing the seed hopper and changing the seed disc are still extremely easy and convenient.

Larger, 16-inch double-disc seed trench openers allow planting depth to be increased to 4½ inches, and depth is now adjustable in quarter-inch increments. Closing wheel down-pressure adjustment (if desired) is made easier by simply slipping a 1 1/8-inch (29mm) wrench over the adjustment handle for more leverage. Easy adjustment and operation allow operators to quickly set the row units to deliver consistent seed-to-soil contact for uniform crop emergence and optimum yields. Changes throughout the row unit minimize maintenance and further enhance durability.

Featured in the 9000 Series introduction is the all-new 12-row, narrow-transport, three-section Model 9812-30, which offers 30-inch row spacing and the efficiency of a Central Fill System (CFS).

“We’ve had tremendous demand for a 12-row, 30-inch planter that provides the convenience of narrow transport and the productivity increases that come with a Central Fill System,” explains Hamilton. The 9812-30 joins two other three-section, narrow-transport models, the 9816-30, 16-row and 9824-30, 24-row 30-inch planters. These three-section frames flex 21 degrees up or down at each wing for consistent planting depth across irregular terrain and fold to a 12-foot transport width for convenient movement from field to field.

As with other planters in the Series, the White Planters Model 9812 may be equipped to fit the needs of nearly any production system. It carries 90 bushels of seed in the CFS hopper or may be equipped with either 2- or 3-bushel individual row-mounted seed hoppers. The 9812 is available with ground-drive or variable-rate hydraulic-drive seeding-rate control. Row shutoff control and variable-rate seed and fertilizer application are made possible with the addition of the C1000 or advanced C3000 terminal/monitors. A pneumatic row unit down-pressure system, two-section point-row shutoff clutches and individual-row auto-row shutoff system are optional.

Closing wheel choices include angled rubber, angled cast iron and single-“V” trench press wheels to ensure seed trench closure in no-till or conventional-till fields. Various tillage and fertilizer attachments also are available. A 300-gallon liquid fertilizer system may be used with the CFS, and a 750-gallon liquid fertilizer tank is used with row unit–mounted versions.

For full details about the new White Planters 9000 Series and the all-new Model 9812, visit or see your local White Planters dealer.

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