If you’re in the market for a large square baler, the newest machines and latest upgrades are available from sev

eral manufacturers – or on the way. Custom harvesters and commercial growers have been asking for increased capacity and durability, plus simple designs. Here’s what they’re getting in 2012 – and beyond.

Eight Krone BigPack High-Speed large square balers were tested in the U.S. last year; 22 will be tested in fields this coming season. But by 2013, a full line of HighSpeed machines will be available to North American customers, offering increased throughput and capacity, says Kurt Stone, Krone territory product manager.

The BigPack 1270, 1290 and 1290 HDP will roll off production lines with plunger strokes increasing by 18%.

“Our strokes per minute are going to go up from 38 to 45 on certain models – mostly our 3 x 4’ models. Our 890, our 3 x 3’ model, is already running 50 strokes per minute, so it’s not going to change. Its capacity is – there will be improvements on that,” Stone points out.

“Our strokes have been less (than on competitive models), and we’ve always been able to keep up, but we weren’t able to put as many flakes to the bale. Now we should be able to run faster than most of the competition,” he says.

Krone’s 4 x 4’ machine will boast a 36% increase in capacity. “But the strokes per minute aren’t changing – they’re reworking some internal mechanisms on feeding the hay through it to increase that capacity.”

The new series will offer a Variable Fill System that will also increase capacity by compressing enough crop in the feed chamber to completely fill it, Stone says.

The HighSpeed version of the HDP (High Density Press) model, ideal for biomass harvesting, will increase production, the product manager adds. Biofuel facilities will need “many tons. They need something that can bale it (biomass) heavy and bale it fast,” he says.

Another new feature is the PreChop system on the 1270 XC, 1290 XC and 1290 HDP XC models. “It’s a little chopper we put on the front of the baler that will cut straw material up into a finer particle size or stem size before it goes into the baler.”

Monitor upgrades allowing GPS and crop mapping, as well as bale scales, moisture sensors and ID tagger systems, will be available, Stone points out.

The Hesston by Massey Ferguson Extra-Density 1270XD baler produces 3 x 4’ bales 9’ in length and 15% more dense than bales made with the MF 2170 standard baler. Its bales are 30% more dense than those made from MF balers built before 2010, says Dean Morrell, hay and forage marketing manager, Agco Corp.

The machine is ideal for the biomass market, to harvest cornstalks, miscanthus and other biofuel crops, he says. “That’s where an Extra-Density baler will make you a more profitable operator, to bale more weight in the bale.”

Changes include beefed up baler drives “from the pto all the way back through the baler. We went to heavier shear bolts, a bigger clutch and our flywheel is twice the size of our current baler’s.” A higher-capacity gearbox was also added.

“Then we changed the connection arms and the crank arms. We still use the bale cage, but we’re pinching hay at a different angle.” Heavy-duty tension cylinders and plunger arms, with an increased baler load, are also new features. Plunger strokes per minute are 47.

With the heavier machine, operators will have to invest in 550- to 600-lb (knot-strength) twines, Morrell advises.

The Claas Quadrant 3300 Roto Feed offers increased bale density and design simplicity, says Matt Jaynes, Claas product coordinator.

With the 3 x 4’ baler’s new prechamber design, “we can actually measure the top and the bottom of the flake so we get more consistency in our bale. So we have better bale density,” he says.

“We’re all gearbox and driveshaft,” adds Jaynes of the baler’s simple design. “Even up to the knotters, it’s all driveshaft, so everything stays in time. There are fewer wear parts on the machine as well.”

He gives credit to the machine’s long bale chamber – 10’ – for added bale density, as well. “It holds the bale longer. When the plunger is striking the flake against the bale, it doesn’t slide through the chamber as easy, so we can compress those flakes more.” It offers 46 piston strokes per minute.

The monitor also tells the operator each flake size, so as field density changes, the baler can be speeded up or slowed down to keep a consistent flake size.

The single-tie knotter was redesigned to take the tension off the twine as it ties the knot to avoid twine fractures, Jaynes says. Its extremely large bill hooks and twine discs also help prevent fractures.

The baler can handle dry alfalfa to silage to cornstalks to straw. Jaynes was running it in biomass this winter, he adds.

Operators offered a lot of input into the machine’s design. “They wanted the least amount of maintenance possible with the longest durability possible. And that was the big target with this baler.” A rotor-cut version will be available in the U.S. in 2013.

Baler Upgrades

The Kuhn LSB 890 and 1290 models will have the option of a new, 6”, color touch-screen monitor available later this year, says Rob Barger, Kuhn product manager. The monitor, called the VT 50, has the same operator interface as Kuhn’s higher-end CCI 100 monitor, still available on all 2012 large square balers.

New plunger load regulation software offers an automatic mode. “This allows the operator to use the plunger load to determine the chamber pressure. If there’s a wet spot in the field, it will adjust accordingly. Or, if there’s a dry spot, it will adjust. It allows the operator to focus less on the bale chamber pressure and let the machine operate itself,” he explains.

The balers each feature 46 plunger strokes per minute, a 10’-long bale chamber, the simplest drive system and heaviest standard flywheel in the industry, Barger says.

Durability is the word to describe what’s new with New Holland’s BB9000 Series large square balers, says Curt Hoffman, brand marketing manager.

“We doubled the thickness of the metal in the pickup bands and then put a reinforcement ridge down the center of the band to make it even more resistant to bending when it goes over top of gopher or badger mounds.

“Anyway you look at it, these big squares run fast in the field. When bands collide with something, most likely a dirt pile, they need to be pretty rigid to skid over the top of dirt,” Hoffman says.

Other changes are software-related, providing data collection including where bales are dropped, their average moisture, total length baled, average pounds of preservative applied per bale – depending in part on whether the tractor has auto-guidance and the b

aler has the CropSaver applicator, electronic bale length and bale weight.

“The big benefit, if you’re a custom operator maybe running multiple units in the field and you’re the guy doing the billing? All of this (data) is saved to a zipstick on the back of the monitor. You can grab the zipstick … and download all of that into Excel and do your billing from Excel.”

As biomass potential increases, Case IH has increased the durability of its LB333 and LB433 large square balers, says Brett Devries, its hay and forage marketing manager.

“We’ve made some product changes to accommodate biomass crops. In the pickup, we have the heavy-duty tines and bands to endure tough conditions. With cornstalks – it’s a pretty messy crop – we have some

 performance kits to keep the needles and knotter area clean so you’re not getting stalks where you shouldn’t, which can cause mis-ties,” he says.

In the past year, Case IH has integrated its technologies to offer operators effective mapping, moisture-sensing and tagging options as well as track fuel efficiency and tons per hour to help manage costs and productivity.

Deere & Co., which recently formed an agreement with Kuhn Group to manufacture John Deere-branded large square balers in Europe and other countries, may have a large square baler introduction in the next couple of years, says Jeremy Unruh, product line manager for baling and mowing.

Watch coming issues of Hay & Forage Growerfor more forage harvesting equipment introductions.