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Stackyard News Jun 06

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Claas Gear-Up For Challenging OSR Harvest
10/06/06

With so many tall, thick oilseed rape crops this season and lodging already evident in some, Claas combine manager, Paul Moss urges growers to gear up with the right harvesting approach if they are to avoid a frustrating and time-consuming harvest.

Claas Lexion 600“Excellent autumn establishment and rapid late spring growth has left many taller, bulkier varieties particularly thick this season, with a relatively high proportion of thinner, weaker stems,” he explains. 

“They started to suffer in the May rains and are going into the summer in an acutely vulnerable state. It really won’t take much to knock them down. So everyone needs to be prepared for the challenging combining conditions we saw in 2004 rather than last year’s generally trouble-free harvest.”

Under these circumstances, Paul Moss sees desiccation as infinitely preferable to swathing, pointing out that laid crops don’t allow sufficient stubble to be left to set up a decent drying swath. And in higher biomass varieties this will be compounded by the sheer bulk of material, leading to the thick, damp, matted areas of crop that are the bane of any combine driver’s life.

“Desiccation with Roundup will help dry the crop evenly without pod shattering, but it will also be vital to set-up and operate your combine correctly,” he stresses.

“While you’ll have to set the cutterbar low for the laid areas, for instance, you must
be aware that without a decent rape extension or variable cutterbar parts of the crop that remain standing can easily go straight over the header. Which means you’ll have to stop, reverse and go through it again.

“Setting the cutterbar low, of course, means an increased contamination risk from soil and other debris if you don’t have an automatic contour following system. So a lot of extra driver care and attention will be essential.

“Cutting lower also means thicker stalks and far greater potential for jams,” he adds.
“To compensate you’ll need to lift the table auger to cope with the bulk, and open your concave settings wider than normal.”

Typically, Claas recommends a 18mm concave setting for rape to avoid crushing stems and gumming-up the combine. But for this year’s bulkier crops Paul Moss suggests it may need to be nearer 30mm.  He warns that the concave shouldn’t be opened up beyond 35 mm, though, or their unique breakaway system won’t have sufficient leeway to protect the drum against blockage from particularly bad wads of crops.

Since concentrating up to 9m of thick crop into the 1.7m elevator throat of a Claas combine – let alone the 1.2 m of many other machines –  will be a particularly tight squeeze, he urges drivers to be alert for jams; especially where there is no automatic concave protection or advanced pre-separation ahead of the main drum.

“Even with good desiccation and the most advanced combine technologies, you’d be as well to plan on your oilseed rape harvest taking considerably longer than it did last year if you’ve got tall and thick crops,” Paul Moss advises.

“Plan to do as much as you can ahead of time to reduce the problems and you should be able to minimise any knock-on effects on your wheat harvest and subsequent cultivations.”

link New Claas Lexion 600 takes combining to new output levels
link Three new additions to the CLAAS 2006 combine line-up

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