Jim Straeter thinks his invention will help livestock producers combat high input costs by using corn stover for hay, silage and bedding.

“The Cornrower gives them a harvest tool that they didn’t have before,” says Straeter, manager of Rochester New Holland in Rochester, IN.

The combine-head attachment chops stover and puts it in windrows while the grain is being harvested, with the husks and cobs falling out of the combine being placed on top. It mounts on an eight-row New Holland 99C chopping corn head and is compatible with New Holland CR combines with high-speed header drives.

He successfully mounted a 99C head and Cornrower on a Case IH combine last fall, but hasn’t tried other brands, he says.

Straeter believes the invention will be a good fit for producers selling baled stover to cellulosic ethanol plants. But when he started working on it five years ago, his goal was to provide customers with an alternative to raking for stover used as feed or bedding.

“Even in a really good-weather fall, they had dirty stover and they had rocks in their balers and choppers,” he points out.

The Cornrower eliminates a field pass and keeps the stover off the ground until it’s deposited in a windrow. A housing around the chopping blades underneath the stalk rolls on each row unit catches the material and tunnels guide it to a conveyor on the back of the head, then the conveyor takes it to the center. The tunnels have doors that can be opened to leave some of the stover in the field.

The shaft that holds the two chopping blades is lengthened and two more blades are added for additional chopping. Straeter says he’s successfully removed two blades – one at each level with counterweights for the missing blades – for clients who wanted a coarser chop.

Windrow shields that come with the attachment can be adjusted to make narrow windrows for chopping stalkage or wide ones for baling dry stover. For baling, Straeter says chopped stover dries faster than unchopped material, and the bales are 20% denser.

With the Cornrower,stover can be chopped for stalklage when it has sufficient moisture for proper ensiling. Straeter also notes that, when corn is combined, the plants have roughly twice as much moisture as the grain.

“As long as you stay above 50% moisture in the stover, which generally means above 25% in the grain, you’re in pretty good shape,” says Straeter. “But one of the real advantages of the Cornrower is that you can chop the stover right behind the combine. Because it’s in a tight windrow, you don’t lose much moisture.”

Ensiled stover tests 7.5-8% protein and 55-60% TDN, and some producers add hydrated lime to improve its feed value. When fed with distillers’ grain, another low-cost commodity, “it’s pretty darn good feed,” he says.

“But even without the hydrated lime, you get pretty good results for stalklage, and it’s easy to ensile. You won’t have any trouble getting it to ferment, and it really keeps well.”

does slow the grain harvest, especially when the stalks are moist and hard to chop.

“But you’re doing two jobs at once, so at the end of the day you’re better off.”

The invention, which recently won an award for innovation from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, was introduced last fall. So far it’s been sold only on new 99C heads, but Straeter plans to have an aftermarket package for dealers to install this year. The cost is $18,000.

For more information, contact Straeter at 574-223-2714 or visit newhollandrochester.com to see a video and brochure.