The two family owned German makers of self-propelled forage harvesters — Claas of America and Krone North America — announced additions and improvements to their forage harvester lines last month.

Claas offers a new Jaguar series of harvesters with more strength, bite and comfort. Krone has improved its Big X line of choppers, with increased durability, more-uniform feed production and efficient power.

The Jaguar 900 series includes the 980, at 830 hp; the 970, at 730 hp; the 960, at 623 hp; and the 950, at 507 hp. The 980 and 970 models have twin in-line, six-cylinder Mercedes engines to transfer their horsepower output directly to the chopping unit with one simple connection point, says Bob Armstrong, Claas of America product marketing manager. The Double Six power system allows growers to chop with one engine when needed, reducing fuel consumption.

The series' new V-Max knife drum, equipped with up to 36 knives and an open cylinder design with universal knives, delivers more bite with optimum chopping and smooth operation, he adds. The system lets growers switch from grass to corn without changing knives.

“The Claas engineers have taken comfort to a new level,” Armstrong says of the line's sleek Vista cab design. “Offering greater flexibility, increased flexibility from the cab, as well as advanced maneuverability, the new design and technology put control in the hands of the grower with effortless operation.”

Besides increased visibility, the cab has a driver platform that rotates 20° for spout maneuverability; added seat, steering and armrest adjustments; low noise levels; and the Cebis system. Cebis controls all key functions through one central system.

Krone NA's new Big X line of high-horsepower forage harvesters are more durable with new standard features. One of the most important is the inclusion of hardened parts in the crop-flow areas of the 650-, 800- and 1,000-hp machines, says Rusty Fowler, president/CEO. “This was generated out of the Western U.S., California in particular, because of the abrasive conditions in crops.”

All 2008 models of Krone forage harvesters will include AutoScan, a photo-optical scanner that reads the color of the corn to determine chop length. “Our AutoScan reads the color and if it's a little bit more mature (brown), then it cuts it shorter so it's not as hard to compact,” says Hartwig Janssen, product manager.

Krone introduces two new dual-engine models, Big X 800 hp and Big X 1,000 hp. A patented software development provides the means to ensure equal loads on both engines. The engines are mechanically linked through a single gearbox with clutched protection and a positive transfer of power.

The Big X 500-, 800- and 1,000-hp choppers will include Constant-Power, a load limiting system that ensures the engine runs at a constant and optimum speed at all times, reducing operator fatigue and fuel consumption. Those same models, as well as the 650-hp machine, also come with a headland chop-length management system. It allows feed rollers to slow down on headlands to maintain the same amount of material between them, providing consistent chopping quality.