"I really, really want one."
That's how North Dakota farmer Bill Streifel summed up his first experience using MacDon's all new C Series Corn Header. He'd had the opportunity to try MacDon's first ever corn head as part of an extensive demo program across the Northern US and Canada last fall.
"I'd been thinking about buying a chopping corn head for a while, so when MacDon asked me if I would like to demo their new C Series head it was a definite yes," said Streifel from his farm located close to Devils Lake, ND. "I thought that it would be a pretty good way of seeing if I would like one or not."
Streifel's time with the header proved to be much more extensive than just a few passes, as he was able to use the product to cut a large portion of his approximately 1,100 acres (445 hectares) of corn.
"Compared to previous corn headers that I've used I was more than impressed with how it performed. I just loved how clean it left my fields looking. Let's just put it this way; after trying it I will never go without a chopping corn head again."
According to MacDon Product Integrator Scott Dietsche, Streifel’s two-thumbs-up response to the C Series was the norm throughout the demo program that saw a total of 16 units deployed under a wide variety of field and crop conditions.
"We received a lot of positive feedback from farmers who had a chance to try them," said Dietsche. "Comments ranged from being very impressed by the header's residue management system to how much faster farmers were able to harvest with this header. For farmers that used the header's chopping version, they said that they were very satisfied by the chop quality, as well as the appearance of their fields afterward. Seeing a clean field certainly helps you feel like you've done something right and it has become a selling point of the header."
Dietsche says that he is not surprised by the glowing reviews as he himself was equally impressed using an earlier version of the product on the family farm near Colfax, Wisconsin.
"We used the header over quite a few acres and the knives looked pretty darn good when we got done. I thought that they stood up really well compared to what we normally see."
"The reason we got the header initially was to help us with our residue management. With today's higher yielding, heartier varieties of corn there is a need to encourage faster breakdown of the residue material left in the field and these C Series headers are designed for precisely that."
Available in models for every operation, MacDon will release the C Series in six, eight and twelve row versions with 20", 22" and 30" row spacing configurations. All models will be offered in both non-chopping and chopping versions, and the eight and twelve row 30" models will also be available with folding frames for narrow transport on the road.
Dietsche says that while from a distance a C Series header looks pretty much like any other corn header; up close some major differences immediately become apparent to any experienced corn farmer.
"If you're intimate with corn heads, the first difference you'll notice pretty quick is the design of our OctiRolls™. What makes them unique from traditional rolls is that they have eight knives on the roll, four with sharp edges to cut the stalk alternating with four serrated knives to grip, crimp and tear the stalk. It's more effective than traditional systems that only have cutting knives, which tend to lose traction pulling the stalk downward."
Dietsche says that the more aggressive pulling action from MacDon's OctiRolls provides faster processing of the stalk and a more positive cutting action, which translates into reduced opportunity for any leaves or top portions of the plant to break off and be taken in by the combine.
"The less material, or MOG (material-other-than-grain) as it is called, that is ingested by the combine the more efficient it can run because it only has to deal with separating grain. Farmers should also experience a reduction in the amount of fluff, or weightless debris, that is hard to convey and tends to accumulate on top of the feederhouse."
Additionally, Dietsche says that most operators should be able to increase their harvesting speeds thanks to the serrated knife design of the OctiRolls compared to competitive systems.
"One of the things I tell farmers right away is that the serrated knife on the OctiRoll™ allows you to harvest quicker because you aren't waiting for the stalk to be processed by the header. During the demo we saw guys being able to cut at speeds up to 7½ mph (12 km/h). Now, not everyone was able go that fast due to field and combine limitations, but one farmer said he was able to make up the time we lost switching over headers for the demo within an hour of operation."
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the design of the OctiRolls is how they help to promote faster breakdown of the plant material left in the field.
The serrated knives don't just crimp the stalk, they also shred it a bit, which helps to open it up for faster moisture release cycles. That can speed up the microbial breakdown of the stalk by twice as much, so even if you don't have a chopping model you are still improving your residue management. And, of course, if you do have a chopping model you are that much further ahead because the stalk is being broken down into smaller pieces of two to three inches, increasing exposed surface area.
Another visual difference corn producers will notice between C Series headers and competitive units is the look of the snouts. Colored white for better nighttime visibility (they are also available in red, green, yellow and grey), MacDon's snouts feature a unique teardrop shape, as well as a specially ribbed surface.
"The teardrop design allows more tolerance of snout position when cornering, before it starts running over corn, while the ribbing helps the header lift lodged corn more easily than smooth surfaced snouts. This last year those farmers who demoed the header in downed corn reported that the header performed extremely well picking up their crop."
Dietsche says that operators should also notice a bit more forgiveness with C Series headers.
"For some combines it is very important that the operator drive right on the row to gently guide the stalk in, especially if the corn is dry as even a little rattling of the stalk can shake an ear off. This header gives the operator a little more allowance to be off the row an inch or two either way, which reduces field loss and operator stress."
Producers, who have to do a lot of roading with their combines or work a lot in smaller fields, will likely want to investigate the folding versions of the C Series header.
"Our folding C Series headers can save farmers significant time as they can fold or unfold in less than two minutes. They also employ a design that has been proven through many years of field service and that translates into greater header reliability."
"I just loved how clean it left my fields looking. Let's just put it this way; after trying it I will never go without a chopping corn head again."
When it comes to product durability, Dietsche says that C Series headers feature the same quality of build and attention to detail that farmers familiar with other MacDon products have come to expect.
"For example, the snapping plates for stripping the cob from the stalk, along with the knives on the rolls and chopping knives, all feature hardened steel so farmers will notice a difference in terms of extended life and reduced breakage on these parts. And should anything go wrong, we will, of course, provide the same exceptional product support customers have come to expect from MacDon. We will also continue to listen to and work closely with our customers to learn how to improve the product for their benefit."
Back in North Dakota, Bill Streifel can attest to the quality of the header after using it for most of his corn harvest.
"I really liked the overall build of the unit, especially the knives," said Streifel. "We used the header over quite a few acres and the knives looked pretty darn good when we got done. I thought that they stood up really well compared to what we normally see. The maintenance of the unit was pretty easy as well."
Like most others who demoed the header, Streifel reports that the header improved the efficiency of his combine.
"I was really impressed with the header's feeding capacity. I was able to harvest at least a mile an hour faster than my regular header, if not more."
Streifel says that the thing that sold him the most on the C Series, was how nice his fields looked when he finished.
"I've never liked the look of a ragged field when I am done; I just don't like it. But, this C Series chopping head left my fields looking just fantastic. It cuts your stalks at whatever height you want to cut them at. When I would look back all I would see is a nice even field; I no longer had those big long stalks sticking out that I would have to get rid of later."
To help promote faster breakdown of the residue stalks, Streifel says that he likes to follow the combine with a disk.
"We took a disk into one field after and the field looked pretty darn good after we finished. If you can get a little dirt on those smaller chopped pieces they should rot better through the winter, unlike those larger stalks which can take years to fully decompose."
So positive was Streifel's experience with the C Series that he says he is determined to acquire one in time for his 2019 harvest.
"For me it's a no brainer; I definitely want to buy one for next season. We're working on it now."
Unfortunately, he may face some competition as he likely won&'t be the only one in the area trying to obtain one.
"Several of my neighbors came by to watch while I was demoing the unit and all were impressed with how it left my fields, one so much so that he had to try it on his own too. That header is just fantastic."
Scott Dietsche says that farmers interested in getting a C Series corn head for their operation are advised to contact their dealers as early as possible.
"Our customers can contact their local dealers to let them know that they are interested in these headers. They need to know that people want them."