Top Hay Mowing Tips from Hesston
Apr 07, 2013
When haying season around the corner, AGCO and its experts from the Hesston line of hay equipment have the following tips to maximize tonnage and quality with mowing equipment.
First, the environment and the individual operation will drive the type of mowing equipment used. Modern sickle-type or disc-type mowers, windrowers and swathers are capable of cutting forage crops fast and cleanly, leaving a smooth, even windrow that maximizes crop dry-down. Disc mowers offer the advantage of allowing hay to be cut earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when better leaf moisture means less loss of nutrient-rich leaves.
Here are tips from Hesston experts with any mower or mower conditioner model:
- Proper blade maintenance is critical to achieving a good cut. Blades must be sharp to cut the forage cleanly and to minimize stem and leaf shattering. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on blade-change intervals, and be sure to stock up on replacement blades before hay season starts.
- Choose the right blade for the job. Shallower 10- or 11-degree blades create less air lift, thus pulling less dirt into the forage. If less suction works for your crop conditions, these blades can be a good choice. Thick, matted forage may require a blade with more lift, such as an 18-degree blade. Bottom-beveled blades have an advantage if they hit a stone or rock because they bend upward, away from the cutter bar.
- Set the cutting height at 1.5 to 3 inches. This reduces contamination from dirt, making the crop easier to rake and to pick up with the baler. To avoid dirt and ash contamination and reduce knife and general mower wear and tear, avoid pitching the cutter bar downward at too steep an angle.
- Set the header flotation height to avoid scalping the soil surface and wavy cutting height from one end of the field to the other. Ideally, the cutter will gently float across the ground without scuffing the surface. If you see scuffs or dirt streaking across the field, you don’t have enough flotation pressure, or the mower is set too heavy. If you see waves in the field, you have too much flotation pressure, or the header is set too light. Where the field surface is rough and uneven, flotation should be increased, making the head lighter to glide over rough terrain. When running the head heavier on the self-propelled unit, optional gauge wheels are recommended.
- With mower conditioners, turbulence (or windage) created by the conditioning rolls can blow the crop from its upright position before it is cut, resulting in an uneven cut. If this is a problem, increase ground speed or slow the conditioning system, or do a combination of the two, to reduce turbulence for a cleaner cut.
- Lay the windrow out as flat and wide as possible by setting the swathboard to its lowest possible setting (all the way down). A wide windrow maximizes dry-down by providing the best exposure to wind and sunlight.
- Be sure to check your owner’s manual for daily and regular service and maintenance needs to ensure peak machine performance. And, stock up on key replacement parts such as cutter blades, sickle sections, guards, drive belts and hoses to reduce costly downtime from minor breakdowns. Dealers often have a list of parts recommended for on-farm stocking and may offer preseason discounts for parts purchases.
For more: www.hesston.com.