The outcome of a “chopper challenge” comparing forage harvester manufacturers’ models this past harvesting season will be reported at the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. (USCHI) annual convention, March 3-5 at the Midtown Holiday Inn, Grand Island, NE.

“The chopper challenge has a lot of hoopla around it; people are interested in hearing what the full results are,” says Jon Orr, Orrson Custom Farming Ltd., Apple Creek, OH, who is also on the USCHI board.

Brian Marsh, University of California-Davis farm advisor out of Bakersfield, will tell how the harvesters performed and compare forage quality results from the John Deere, Claas, Krone and New Holland machines.

“We need to know how many gallons of fuel we’re burning and how much crop we can get through in a day,” Orr says. “But dairymen want to know who produces the better product.”

Chopper challenges, he adds, can provide that information. “There is no Nebraska Tractor Test for forage harvesters, so maybe this is the onset of that. The ultimate goal is to get better forage harvesters. That’s where we want to be – and maybe drive this manufacturers’ market in the direction that suits us better.”

The annual convention, for professional custom grain and forage harvesters, will offer a variety of speakers as well as combine and forage clinics. The forage clinics will include half-hour lectures as well as forage harvester walk-arounds in which each of the manufacturer models are examined up front – a change from past years’ hour-long-lecture clinics, Orr says.

Forage-related topics and speakers will include a length-of-cut discussion by Chris Hallada, Vita Plus forage program manager, and an examination of the Custom Harvester Analysis and Management Program (CHAMP) for grain and forage by Terry Kastens, Extension emeritus, and Kevin Dhuyvetter, Extension specialist in Kansas State University’s farm management program.

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