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Combine header pays off

Gene Johnston 01/11/2013 @ 3:51pm On the scene at the 2012 Cattle Convention, Nashville

When Bill Bruere got his first draper header for his combine, his days got longer. And that's a good thing in the midst of soybean harvest.

“I can start an hour earlier in the morning and keep going an hour later at night,” says the Prole, Iowa, farmer. The hours in between are also more productive, due to the smooth, no-stops operation of the draper-type crop delivery to the combine feeder house.

A draper header uses a canvas-style rolling platform belt to catch crop from the sickle bar. The crop is conveyed on the belt from both ends of the header to the middle, where a third draper pushes it into the feeder house. Draper headers are an alternative to auger-style headers.

Bruere got his first 35-foot draper header three years ago and ran it successfully for two seasons. When he upgraded to a Claas Lexion 750 combine this year, he was determined to have another draper header and found the one he wanted at Brian's Farm Supply (www.brianfarmsupply.com) in Lineville, Iowa. This one is 40 feet wide, and he runs it at a steady 5 mph in soybeans, covering about 25 acres an hour, at a fuel usage of less than 1 gallon per acre. Here are the advantages he sees to the draper.

Start earlier, stop later

Soybeans are notorious for being finicky at harvest. When the plants are damp, they can slug up at the feeder. It narrows harvest hours down to the middle part of the day.

“With this header, there's no bunching of the soybean plants, especially in tough conditions,” Bruere says. “They flow steadily on the platform and feed into the combine uniformly. Slugging is just about eliminated.”

On the day of the interview for this story, Bruere was combining at normal speed right after a light rain. He stopped briefly only because rain drops on the cab windows limited visibility.

No-dust harvest

Dust comes out the back of the Lexion, but with his draper header, Bruere says he sees almost none from the cab. Auger headers tend to thresh soybean plants as they are pushed toward the feeder. The draper belt carries them there, and all threshing takes place inside the machine. The header creates little dust.

Almost rockproof

There isn't a header that will never pick up a rock. But Bruere likes the way his header tilts back in areas where rocks are prevalent.

“It rides over them rather than scooping them up,” he says. “They're not as big a deal as with any other header I've operated.”

Fits all models

Bruere's draper header is made by MacDon Industries Ltd., a Canadian company that makes various types of harvesting equipment. Jason Strobbe, MacDon product manager, says the headers come in 30-, 35-, 40-, and 45-foot widths, and are adaptable to all combine makes and models.

Strobbe lists four advantages that he hears from farmers about draper headers.

1. Even flow

“It creates a nice, gentle, even flow of material into the machine,” he says. “If a machine has a 30-foot flex-auger header, we can put our 35-foot draper on it and run at the same combine speed.” That's 17% more capacity, Strobbe notes.

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