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AGCO expands its line of small square balers

The line of Hesston by Massey Ferguson small balers gets two 
new heavy-duty, high-density, three-twine models for 2013

Just the sight of a small square baler can still make some former farm boys break out in a cold sweat. Most of us spent more than a few hot summer days manhandling hundreds of small, square hay bales. It was hard work, and I’m sure we’re all pleased to see round balers now dominating the market on the prairie. But the need for small square bales hasn’t gone away entirely.

In fact, the demand for small square balers has remained reasonably strong over the decades. To better compete in the small-baler segment and offer a heavy-duty machine matched by few other manufacturers, AGCO just introduced two more models to its line of Hesston by Massey Ferguson MF1800 Series balers. At the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, in early February, the company debuted it’s MF1844S and MF1844N, bringing the total number of models in the MF1800 Series to six.

The new machines

These two new machines are heavy-duty, three-twine balers, unlike the smaller MF1835, MF1847, MF1839 and MF1841, which use the more familiar two-twine knotters.

The 1844 models aren’t your usual small-square baler. The high density bales they produce are designed to be better suited to producers selling high-quality hay into the export market, which requires very dense bales that can be further compacted and stuffed into sea containers. And we farm boys can breathe a sigh of relief; the bales coming out of an 1844 are designed to be mechanically handled.

“We designed the MF1844 balers to meet the handling and transportation needs of hard-working Western harvesters who demand consistently dense, stackable, Hesston bales,” says Dean Morrell, manager of product marketing, Hay and Forage. “These new PTO-driven balers are low-maintenance machines with less downtime, so operators can keep moving when conditions are right to bale hay at its optimum quality.”

The MF1844 balers are substantially heavier machines than the four other models in the line. Their base weight is a hefty 8,000 pounds (3,630 kilograms). That’s much beefier than the smallest two-twine model, the MF1835, which tips the scales at only 2,700 pounds (1,224 kilograms).

The two new models offer 15 X 22 inch or 16 X 22 inch chambers, each capable of making bales from 36 to 48 inches long. The three twines keep these dense bales, which can weigh up 145 pounds, from breaking apart.

The smaller, two-twine models offer bale chamber sizes of 14 X 18 or 16 X 18 inches.

All Hesston small-square balers use the same in-line design which feeds the windrow straight up into the bale chamber, unlike competitive balers that use a side-delivery concept. AGCO claims the overall, in-line design and unique pre-compression chamber better preforms each flake before it gets pushed into the chamber by the plunger, so the crop is more evenly distributed and the bale has uniform density with nice, square shoulders. That, AGCO adds, eliminates those occasional banana-shaped bales which end up breaking.

Because the pickup doesn’t stick out to the side, there’s no need to put the baler in and out of transport position when moving from field to field, that saves a little time. And with the bale chamber sitting up quite high, the needles remain above the axles, reducing the chance of damaging them when driving over a difficult field access or some other uneven surface.

The cost

Base MSRP for MF1800 Series balers begins at US$21,465 for the smallest model, the MF1835. The MF1841, the highest capacity two-twine model will set you back US$33,884. Way up at the top end of the price chart are the new MF1844S and N. Their base price is US$69,861. But they are in a unique category with only one other manufacturer, Freeman, building a comparable baler. So you’d expect them to be much more expensive than a conventional two-twine machine

Here’s a look at what can you expect to pay for other two-twine, small-square balers on the market, according to each company’s online pricing information.

John Deere’s three, 300 Series small square balers, which all offer 14 X 18 inch bales up to 50 inches in length, range from US$20,299 for the 328 to U.S.$24,623 for the 348.

New Holland offers specific Canadian pricing online. For its smallest model, the BC5050, which also makes 14 X 18 inch bales, but up to 52 inches long, base price is C$22,014. At the top of the NH line, the BC5080, with a 16 X 18 inch bale chamber, will cost you C$35,472. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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