While John Deere has been in business since 1837, in 2014 it released their first large square baler.

A crowd of dealers from across North America were introduced to the baler and many other new products with much fanfare at John Deere’s 2014 product launch in downtown Milwaukee, Wis. Excited dealers  were on-hand as they unveiled their latest line of equipment and new tractors, including Deere’s prototype of a four-track 4-wheel drive tractor – making the company the only one with wheels, two-track, and four-track for 4WDs.

First John Deere large square baler

John Deere’s 2014 product launch heavy in hay equipmentThis year’s launch brought significant additions and updates to John Deere’s hay and forage lineup, including the company’s first large square baler. With an agreement signed with Kuhn in 2011, John Deere’s Jeremy Unruh, product line manager at their Ottumwa Works (Iowa) plant, said, “We took a single-tie machine made in Europe and redesigned it to fit the U.S. market with a double-tie machine, made in Ottumwa, Iowa.” He said they changed over 85% of the original design, with over 2,100 parts on the L340.

The balers, L330 (3x3-foot bales) and L340 (3x4-foot bales) feature John Deere’s double-tie knotters, which they designed for easier servicing. The L330 operates at 83-inches of width and the L340 at 90-inches. The balers’ information and pricing will be available at midnight on August 28, 2014. Unruh said they are currently creating the new production line at the Ottumwa works, but hope to have them ready for the 2015 hay season.

I asked Unruh about the status of their small square balers, which have not seen a recent design update, and he said they had a conference call on the matter in the past week, realizing that’s an important machine for many customers, but they’re still evaluating the small square baler as far as a redesign or improvement launch.

Third windrower in three years

John Deere’s 2014 product launch heavy in hay equipmentJohn Deere again updated its windrower series with the new W260 Windrower and 500R Platform. It has a Final Tier IV engine and 260-horsepower 6.8L engine, allowing it to deliver power at lower rpms, the company said. The cab is 30% larger, with 37% more glass surface area for viewing.

New self-propelled forage harvester series coming in 2016

The new 8000 Series of John Deere forage harvesters looks like, and is, a bottom-up redesign. Deere employees explained that there are over 5,000 new parts on their four new standard crop-flow models with 375 to 616 horsepower, 8100, 8200, 8400, and 8500, and their 626-horsepower 8600 with wide crop-flow model.

It was obvious that easy maintenance was a focus on the new machine, as the new series has swing-out tool boxes, a hook-and-pulley system built in to remove the kernel processor, and even a built-in hand-wash (water) station at the bottom of the ladder. John Deere says the new models will reduce fuel consumption as much as 18%.

While Final Tier IV requirements brought the machine to life, the new engine is placed completely behind the rear wheels, allowing for less soil compaction and better flotation.

John Deere’s 2014 product launch heavy in hay equipment

Deere and Hillco tout one-pass corn stalk bales

The final item we heard about in the hay and forage department was the Hillco single pass round bale system, built in partnership with Deere. While the system does take more combine horsepower, Deere says it chose the round bale system over large squares for weight reasons, saving over 10,000 pounds (12,000 pounds for a round bale and baler versus 20,000-22,200 pounds for a square bale and baler). Deere estimates needing only 35 horsepower from the combine for the system.

John Deere’s 2014 product launch heavy in hay equipmentIf you’re wondering how often the combine needs to stop for the bales to drop out, you wouldn’t be the only person, explained Lenny Hill, owner and president of Hillco Technologies. “The accumulator allows the combine to keep moving, so we don’t have to deal with the issue of stopping – we know the harvest of grain is the most important part of this process,” he said. The accumulator gathers about one-fourth or one-third of the bale, and then sends it into the baler at once, ensuring there is enough material to begin the bale-making process.

With an approximate $80,000 investment, not including the baler or combine, you do get some big returns in terms of bale quality. First, the 5-foot by six-foot “MOG” corn bales (material other than grain) weigh about 1,750 pounds, compared to 1,450 for a traditional corn stalk bale. This is because you’re only taking what comes out of the combine, and that includes corn. “Even the best combines lose 2 bushels per acre of corn out of the back. We get to collect that, and that’s something a traditional corn stalk bale wouldn’t contain,” Hill explained.

That 20% addition of weight per bale means there will be 20% fewer bales in the field, and 20% fewer bales to transport and store. The reason they get more weight is because of the fines they’re packing into the plant – collecting the highly digestible but less nutrient-dense top portion of the plant – rather than only packing the more fibrous leaves picked up in a three pass combine-rake-and-bale system.



Cornstalk bale

Grass first cutting

TDN (provided by Deere)





The MOG corn bale system also lowers the ash content, which John Deere estimates to total 3.6% ash, versus 12.4% ash in a traditional corn stalk bale. This is due to the dismissal of the raking process, which pulls in about 60% of field residue (including some dirt), whereas a MOG system is only collecting 20% to 30% of field residue. That also means less need for manure application.

For the right operator (would it be good beef and dairy heifer feed?), the “single-pass round baler” system could be a game-changer.