The Round Baler
|Posted on August 16, 2018 at 6:40 PM|
To make good solid round bales you want a nice consistent windrow. We’ve all baled poorly made windrows before and it is aggravating to say the least. There's a few things to consider when deciding how to make a windrow.
To Rake or not to Rake
Many people who make balage bales simply set their mower-conditioners to make a narrow windrow, then bale it when it reaches the right moisture content. This can be an effective method and can save time and possible leaf loss by minimizing moving the hay. This method also creates inconsistently dried hay and will take longer to bale. Raking the hay fluffs it, dries it more uniformly and can save valuable time on the baler.
Types of Rakes
There are three main types of rakes in the U.S. side delivery/bar, wheel and rotary. Side delivery/bar rakes have been the norm for almost a century and can still be found on farms across the country. They are generally ground driven and have bars with tines on them to move the hay into a windrow. They tend to rope the hay some but are fairly easy to use and maintain. Wheel rakes, also called speed rakes or v-rakes, are known for their speed in the field and can make consistent windrows. Wheel rakes also tend to rope the hay and are the cheapest to buy new out of the three. Rotary rakes make fluffy windrows that lets the breeze through them for excellent drying. They are usually PTO driven and are more complex than the other types of rakes. They also are on the higher end of the price spectrum. When deciding what type of rake to buy, its best to ask local farmers as every area is different and different rakes may work better in your area.
How to Rake
No matter what type of rake you have it is essential to make a nice windrow in order to make quality bales. If using a single rake, (meaning the hay goes to one side of the rake) and you want to double your windrows together, it is best to rake each windrow next to each other so they are hardly touching and approximately 4 foot wide or 5 foot wide depending on your balers pickup, doing this will eliminate the need to weave when baling and will result in solid bales with square corners. If you are using a center delivery rake,such as a v-rake or two side delivery rakes, you want to set the width of the windrow to match your balers pickup head. Also be sure you don’t try to put too much hay into one windrow as this can cause issues with the baler, such as plugging which trust me, once you’ve spent an hour unplugging a baler pickup in the dusty summer heat, you will learn that lesson real quick.
However you make your windrow it's mostly trial and error, and many operators have different preferences. If you are raking hay for a custom baler it is best to check with them to see how they like their hay raked, they will definitely thank you!