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Are You Ready For First Cutting? | The Forage Pro

By: Kent Russell  5/1/2018 As the sun starts to shine and the temperature starts to rise, the first cutting starts...

The Forage Pro Kent Russell standing in front of a John Deere 560M baler explaining.

By: Kent Russell  5/1/2018

As the sun starts to shine and the temperature starts to rise, the first cutting starts to come to mind. The real question is, are you prepared?

  1. Blades are sharp.

Sharp blades on your windrower are the key to a quality cut. So make sure they are ready to go when your field is.

Of course, you can sharpen the blades on your windrower; but because the blades are so cheap, I suggest you replace them and start out with a brand new set.

  1. Grease, Grease, and Grease Again.

We see it time and time again in the shop. Greasing is the biggest preventative maintenance you can perform on your machines, of any make. It’s a simple mistake to forget, but properly grease all of the key points on the machine and make sure all of the fluids are changed and refilled as well.

  1. Properly prepare For Conditions.

When I was asked what the biggest mistake that I see usually done in the field during the first cutting is how many people with rotary self-propelled windrowers run the head speed way faster than what is needed for the crop conditions. Doing this causes you to use more horsepower and more fuel to cut your crop than what you need. This also puts more wear on the head simply because of the increase in the number of revolutions that the head makes.

Take the time to review the settings in your operator’s manual to get the correct head speed you need for the conditions. Personally, I always like to run the head as slowly as I can for the ground speed I’m wanting to go and still get a good cut quality.

Also, check that your conditioner roll spacing and the tension on your conditioner roll springs are up to spec and that you’re getting a good condition on the crop. This will really improve quality dry-down time.

I always say the quicker everything will dry down, especially during the first cutting, the less chance for rain or weather coming in to damage or ruin your crop.

  1. Prepare Your Baler

Quick Check On the Baler

  • Pick Up Teeth Condition
  • Proper Gauge Wheel Height
  • Replace Splice Pins
  • Belt Check

A lot of the damage I see with the pick-up components is people running the pick-up too close to the ground and damaging the teeth. The proper gauge wheel-height can be about an inch off the ground and still pick up the crop. After you rake it before you bale it, that crop is just laying on top of the crop stubble; so you don’t need to be touching the ground or even be too close to the ground in order to pick up the crop.

I recommend replacing your splice pins every 1,000 bales. It’s a cheap way to prevent downtime.

  1. Download GoBale App

Another great tool to properly set your machines is to use the GoBale App from John Deere. The GoBale application for Large Square Balers, 9 Series Round Balers, VR, VM, and VG Balers gives you the ability to optimize your John Deere Baler through proper machine and monitor setup, as well as maintenance and in-field procedures. GoBale App users can also record observations and save them for future reference to ensure hours spent in the field are maximized to their fullest potential.