Not everyone views the forage industry with a doom-and-gloom attitude. W.R. Long Inc., a 25-year-old company that manufactures front-end loader attachments, sees only opportunity.

The company recently announced four additions to its product line geared toward hay growers — an accumulator, a grapple, a bale spear and a machine that's a cross between an accumulator and grapple, called the Grapalator.

“Last year we saw business was slowing down, and we were trying to find a match for our type of business — products that we can put on a front-end or skid-steer loader,” says Nelson Long of W. R. Long Inc., based in Tarboro, NC.

“We looked at the square-bale hay business and felt that we could manufacture a product that would allow the user to sell and store hay much easier and for a reasonable price,” he says.

The Grapalator performs as an accumulator, grapple, transporter and loader in one attachment. It works with bales 34-42” long and will also work with shorter bales with minimum modifications, according to Long.

“We have bolt-on mounting brackets, so if you want to use a tractor with a different hookup, you can just buy an extra set of mounting brackets,” he adds. A “true third-function” valve kit can be used with the grap-alator or grapple. Its molded hand grip with a rocker switch on it slides over the loader joy stick. “So you can push the rocker switch back and forth to open and close the grapple and still operate the loader just as you've always done.

“We try to make our products as simple and as user-friendly as we can. And we hope that just helps people think, ‘Hey, those are the kind of guys I want to work with,’ ” Long says.

For more about the company, visit www.wrlonginc.com or call 252-823-4570.