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Combines How Big can they Get


Mark (EC,IN)
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The wife and I took a trip a couple counties north of where we live yesterday.

We met a combine on the road the other day and I actually had to back up and pull in a drive way for it to pass.

It was just the combine with no heads,  a Deere on tracks (don't know model number).  The head was behind a pickup that we met first going slow with flashers so I knew the rest was not far behind.

I said to my wife that I didn't see how the combines could get much bigger because they still had to be moved from field to field.

I suppose they could make them longer,  but not sure if that would help.

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A Deere factory guy told a group of us at a meeting that they were already as big as they can get and be fully assembled at the factory. They said they were working more on being able to go faster with what they have instead of bigger. I think some of these machines have been oversized for the heads that were available and that the header technology is only recently catching up. Time will tell. 

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I thought about this about farm equipment as well. I remember the first time a custom harvesting crew came to our area to chop corn for a nearby farm. I had never seen anything like it before and was astounded by how fast they could get the job done. That was one chopper with a six row head and three trucks. Today they use two choppers with twelve row heads and a whole fleet of trucks and my response is meh, been there done that.

As far as combines go at what point are they just too heavy and create issues with soil compaction.

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3 hours ago, Mark (EC,IN) said:

The wife and I took a trip a couple counties north of where we live yesterday.

We met a combine on the road the other day and I actually had to back up and pull in a drive way for it to pass.

It was just the combine with no heads,  a Deere on tracks (don't know model number).  The head was behind a pickup that we met first going slow with flashers so I knew the rest was not far behind.

I said to my wife that I didn't see how the combines could get much bigger because they still had to be moved from field to field.

I suppose they could make them longer,  but not sure if that would help.

  I remember a Farm Journal article from the early 1980's predicting combines of handling 100 foot heads.  It also predicted full auto guidance which is close at hand in terms of reality.  Agribusiness and the universities keep predicting fewer farmers meaning larger equipment to run the same acres.  We shall see.  

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7 minutes ago, acem said:

Road weight limits will be a harder limit. It gets difficult to haul something across bridges when it gets past a certain weight.

  More plastics in combines.  I'm old enough to remember when the only thing plastic in a combine was the cover over the seat from the factory and the knobs on the control levers.  Farmers scuffed at the idea of anything more being made out of plastic.  Today we have the fingers for the reel, corn head snout and covering and outer body panels to name a few.  It will being interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

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6 hours ago, Mark (EC,IN) said:

The wife and I took a trip a couple counties north of where we live yesterday.

We met a combine on the road the other day and I actually had to back up and pull in a drive way for it to pass.

It was just the combine with no heads,  a Deere on tracks (don't know model number).  The head was behind a pickup that we met first going slow with flashers so I knew the rest was not far behind.

I said to my wife that I didn't see how the combines could get much bigger because they still had to be moved from field to field.

I suppose they could make them longer,  but not sure if that would help.

There getting pretty darned big. Think they're going to start going for faster instead of bigger machines. The Lexion 8600 in the vid below is choking down 5.1 BU per second with a 12RN head & the Deere & CaseIH machines are doing 1 BU less per second with 16 RN heads. I'd like to see if the Claas slows down with a 16R head & by how much.

Mike

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We sold three new 18-row 30” Gehringhoff corn heads this summer. They won’t have much problem with the corn around here this year. 
 

One other thing that helps with combine capacity on today’s machines is automation. Guys that have ran both will tell you a 50 series Axial-Flow with Automation will easily get another 10% more done in a day than one without. Keeps the machine running at full capacity under all conditions. 

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The biggest Fendt does not have a steering wheel (youtube). I think it uses joy sticks. Have never seen one with a corn head though.

There are some 24 row heads on youtube.

I've always wondered what the weight is of a fully loaded unloading auger. There has to be incredible pressure on the base. Especially when unloading on the go. I read an article about a guy with one of those huge heads. In 220 bu corn, the only time they shut the unloading auger off is when they turn or switch grain carts. They are harvesting some many bushels per minute that all they would get done is swing the auger in and out.

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IIRC, A big Claas was about 60,000 lbs field ready. That size machine was used to set a corn world record a couple yrs back and they averaged 6500+ bushels an hr.

As said, they are going for moving faster rather than getting much bigger these days... or using larger heads. I recall a couple YouTube videos from Australia where they had 60 foot drapers running wheat.

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17 hours ago, IHC5488 said:

Is the legal road height 13'6"??  Anything above that has to have a permit or wires raised??

Legal height is 13’6” most states. Some are higher. Bridges under 15’ are *supposed* to be marked. Power lines are supposed to be 17’ in the Midwest. Typical combines that I have hauled measure around 14’ tall while sitting on an 18” lowboy. They make bin extensions to fold down for exactly that purpose. JD, CIH, and the like all size their equipment with full knowledge of the limitations of transport. If they can’t get them down the road on a truck, it’s hard to sell!!

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2 hours ago, Cattech said:

IIRC, A big Claas was about 60,000 lbs field ready. That size machine was used to set a corn world record a couple yrs back and they averaged 6500+ bushels an hr.

As said, they are going for moving faster rather than getting much bigger these days... or using larger heads. I recall a couple YouTube videos from Australia where they had 60 foot drapers running wheat.

BTW, the 'operator' of the Fendt Ideal seemed almost oblivious of the corn running over the grain tank and onto the ground, although I don't know much, WHY in the H3LL did the person running the cart wait so long to get out to the combine?

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21 hours ago, Absent Minded Farmer said:

There getting pretty darned big. Think they're going to start going for faster instead of bigger machines. The Lexion 8600 in the vid below is choking down 5.1 BU per second with a 12RN head & the Deere & CaseIH machines are doing 1 BU less per second with 16 RN heads. I'd like to see if the Claas slows down with a 16R head & by how much.

Mike

That is not harvest rate it is unload rate.

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6 hours ago, Cattech said:

IIRC, A big Claas was about 60,000 lbs field ready. That size machine was used to set a corn world record a couple yrs back and they averaged 6500+ bushels an hr.

As said, they are going for moving faster rather than getting much bigger these days... or using larger heads. I recall a couple YouTube videos from Australia where they had 60 foot drapers running wheat.

You can get a 50ft header from JD now..  Flexes like a Macdon with an addition of a flexible cutter bar.  Macdon I think offers a 50ft header too.  

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15 hours ago, 12_Guy said:

And to think I remember dad being nervous about going from 2 rows to 4. He wasn't sure about keeping an eye on the extra 2 rows. He managed just fine. 

When we bought our first "super" combine which was a grey cab Mass 760 we had to decided between a 24ft header or 30ft header.  Went with the 24ft header because we thought the 30ft would be too big in our hills.  Now we run 45ft headers.  Go figure.  

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ya thought about that too seems like everything now a days has to be huge! Sadly we can't get some of them European made smaller combines they would be around the size of a 915 IH combine or so.

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Cylinder machines are very much in demand, and not made anymore.

Combining alfalfa and other seed grains does not seem to work in a rotary.

The old girls are being resurrected out of need for specialty crops.

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1 hour ago, Diesel Doctor said:

Cylinder machines are very much in demand, and not made anymore.

Combining alfalfa and other seed grains does not seem to work in a rotary.

The old girls are being resurrected out of need for specialty crops.

JD and NH still make and offer conventionals.

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I’ve been wondering for a long time about how much bigger can everything get? 
 Every area has different needs, the biggest planter around here is a few 16-30 mounted planters for corn, since this is peanuts and cotton country most are 12-36 and that’s about as wide as can be transported down the road in a 3pt configuration. I’ve never seen pull type planters here and due to the common practice of ripping under the row, I don’t even know if it could work or not. 
Until somebody comes up with something revolutionary, a 6 row baler picker is about as big as a cotton picker can get. The capability of one is still amazing though, picking cotton never reached the ease of picking corn until the baler picker came along. Those things are already bigger/more expensive than many cotton farmers in this area can utilize.

At some point, everything is going to be as big as it can get and still be practical and transportable. There’s probably some places that a 2500hp+ tractor and 100 row planter can be used but I don’t think it’s going to be here.

I almost forgot, a few years ago a farmer near here was using a pull type planter, I think it was a 24-20 or maybe 15 inch rows planting corn and soybeans, he ran a 15 shank KMC ripper leveler ahead of it( ripper leveler loosens all the soil instead of just under the row). I think he went back to ripping under the row and planting with 12-36 though I’m not sure why.

http://kelleymfgco.com/equipment/rip-strip That’s how it’s all pretty much done here or a ripper bedder.

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