Peter Hill introduces our annual new combines guide with some thoughts on prospects for harvest 2009 sales.
This year”s desperately difficult harvest may be one best forgotten. But with farmers” typical optimism, most will soon be looking ahead to the prospect of a brighter and easier campaign in 2009.
How that translates into purchases of the new combines listed on the following pages remains to be seen.
Thanks to the initial surge in prospects for grain-growing profitability, the UK national fleet was substantially renewed for this year”s harvest.
Provisional statistics put annual sales to the end of August at about 1060 units. This is an unexpectedly high figure – even given the good returns many growers enjoyed from the 2008 harvest – compared with a buoyant 730 units in the previous year and a low of 560 units the year before that.
While industry sources point to a continuation of the trend towards bigger, higher-capacity machines, much of the boost in combine sales came from the lower end of the performance scale, as smaller arable and mixed enterprise farmers, who thought they had bought their last brand-new combine years ago, took the chance to plough grain profits into new harvesters.
Things have changed in the meantime: Margins have been squeezed by sharp rises in input costs and grain prices have fallen.
Growers hit by substantial drying costs (and lost premiums in some cases) for a substantial portion of their crop will be cautious about investing in a new combine for next year.
On the other hand, growers fortunate enough to have banked most of their crop before the rains came will still have cash to invest. And the heavy going of the latter part of the harvest will have left some combines more than ripe for replacement if decent capacity and reliable operation in 2009 is to be assured.
The new combine introductions that encouraged harvest 2008 sales will still have some impact.
Case IH now has the biggest ever line-up of rotary combines to sustain the 30-year-old Axial-Flow success story. AGCO’s Massey Ferguson starts to deliver on its promise of becoming a more significant harvest sector player by introducing updated straw walker machines.
New Holland’s attention-grabbing launch of the flagship CR 9090 rotary, which made the headlines with a new harvesting world record, should also carry some weight as growers assess where to spend their cash.
New season combine sales are expected to fall back from the lofty 1000-plus units delivered for harvest 2008.
But there should still be strong demand from growers keen to ensure they are well-equipped for next year”s campaign
Case IH A thoroughly overhauled Axial-Flow range for 2009 comprises three 88 Series models that replace the 2388, but retain variator belt drive to the threshing/separation rotor and three higher-spec 120 Series machines with hydrostatic rotor drive. The 88 Series Axial-Flow combines have most changes: A longer wheelbase for improved stability, easier table attachment, much bigger grain tanks, new-style body panels and the ST rotor, which can handle larger crop volumes and is said to be gentler with the straw. The two smaller 120 Series combines get more power from their Cursor engines, all three have rear step access to the engine bay and a fixed-knife straw chopper that is speed-matched to the rotor for more consistent transfer of large straw volumes.
Claas The popularity of the 10.5m Auto-Contour Vario table on the Lexion 600 Terra Trac has prompted Claas to also make it available for the 580+ Terra Trac. Business Pack option introduced for Lexion 600 and 580+ comprises CEBIS yield mapping, fuel monitoring, crop book data and Telematics remote performance monitoring, recording and analysis. GPS Pilot auto steering is now a factory-fitted option across the range suitable for Egnos or Omnistar HP positioning or Claas Baseline HD or RTK high-definition systems. Specification upgrades for the Tucano 450 and 430 launched for harvest 2008 include a straw chopper with more blades and better spreading control – fitted as standard on the 430 and 450, optional on the 320 and 440 – and a larger (162mm) CEBIS colour screen. A 213mm version with flash memory card reader is optional.
Deutz-Fahr For harvest 2009, the Deutz-Fahr range continues unchanged from the current line-up.
John Deere Having thoroughly revamped its combine range for this year, changes for harvest 2009 are more limited. The fixed-specification W540C straw walker model is added all “W”, “T” and “C” combines get improved electrical systems and a colour CommandCenter monitor as already installed on the “S” Series rotary. This combine gets a higher-performance cleaning assembly with a larger top sieve area and less aggressive threshing elements with a large-wired end concave section for improved grain and straw condition and creating fewer demands on the cleaning shoe. There is also improved air distribution and increased capacity through the feederhouse. Models with “i” designation (see footnote) can also have the new ProDrive hydro transmission with two-speed auto gearbox for greater speed control versatility, increased torque, an auto disengaging diff lock and auto parking brake.
The Laverda combine line-up continues as for harvest 2008.
Massey Ferguson For harvest 2009, the MF Activa combine range is extended with the “S” spec version of the 7245, which adds a peg drum separator with retractable concave for increased separation performance. The Cerea is revamped as the Centora, with larger one-piece body panels for easier access, a turret-type grain unloading auger installed for greater clearance, new seat-mounted controls, latest Datavision crop setting and performance monitor, and optional GPS-operated Auto-Guide steering.
New Holland “Elevation” spec – comprising a new cleaning shoe assembly with increased cascade cleaning height, increased air volume and faster threshing/separation rotor speeds, plus auto feed rate control – has been added to the CR9060. The standard CR9080 SL has been dropped and the CR9090 Elevation introduced to claim the “World”s highest-output combine” title thanks to a more powerful engine, the industry”s biggest grain tank and a 10.7m wide table. GrainCam cracked grain and MOG detection system is a new option, along with new bolt-on suspension tracks from Italian manufacturer Tidue. In the straw walker line-up, the remaining “CS” models are replaced by the CSX 7040 and CSX 7050 featuring an adjustable concave with up to 121deg of wrap and the Smart Sieve dynamic compensation system for lower grain losses across slopes.
Sampo-Rosenlew Finland’s Sampo-Rosenlew combines, which returned to the British market for this year’s harvest, continue unchanged for harvest 2009.