John Deere brings tracked combines to North America, and announces other updates to the S Series combine lineup
At the 2011 Agritechnica machinery show in Germany, John Deere introduced a track option for S Series combines sold in Europe. When Grainews asked back then if tracks would be made available here, Deere’s spokesperson said they eventually would, but the track system design would be different, because the company didn’t think the European-style track module met the needs of farmers in North America.
At its product launch in Columbus, Ohio, in August, North American tracked S Series combines were finally unveiled. And as Deere promised two years ago, with a much different track system. Canadian farmers paying for the new option will get a track module with a high-idler design for better trash and obstacle clearance.
“Tracks will be available for the S670, S680 and S690 equipped with a ProDrive transmission,” Kim Cramer of Deere’s Harvester Works told a group of journalists at a briefing during the Columbus event.
“When harvesting in tough conditions, operators will be able to get in the fields earlier and harvest longer with the new track option,” said Katie Dierker, division marketing manager at Deere’s Harvester Works. “The tracks can be ordered as a factory-installed option or ordered separately for our model year 2014 S Series machines.”
Nothing changes in the combine driveline to accommodate the track systems, explained Cramer. So, farmers can switch between tires and tracks on the same machine. One advantage of that is farmers could remove and hold back their tracks, switching their trade in over to tires and reinstalling the tracks on another new S Series machine when they update their fleet.
“When that customer trades that combine in, typically he’ll keep the tracks and the dealer can outfit his used machine with tires or tracks,” said Cramer. “There’s nothing unique about the tracked combine.”
Because the tracked versions use the same driveline, the maximum ground speed of a tracked S Series machine will be slightly slower than a wheeled model.
Removing tracks and installing them on a replacement combine could shave a bunch of money off the cost of a new purchase, although how much wasn’t quite clear. Pricing had not yet been set for the track systems at the time of the Ohio product launch. “We haven’t got pricing yet,” Cramer added. “It’ll be over $50,000. They’ll be comparably priced.”
There were other new S Series combine features for product reps to talk about as well. Aside from a leather cab interior package, most notable was the new Interactive Combine Adjustment system (ICA).
ICA allows for automated, on-the-go thresher settings. The system simplifies fine tuning the threshing mechanism to improve performance, which allows less experienced operators to do a harvesting better job.
“It takes where we were with Automatic Combine Adjust (ACA) one step further,” explained Cramer. “Now it interacts with him (the operator). It will ask him questions, he can respond to it and it will give him recommendations on how to improve a situation, clean up the sample in a grain tank or whatever (problem he wants to correct).”
S Series models come with a new Engine Speed Management System which can reduce overall fuel consumption, especially during road transport. They also offer a new Dual Adjust Chaffer, which is designed to produce a cleaner grain tank sample.
Up front, buyers will notice another new option: “The 630 HydraFlex draper header is new,” added Cramer. †