Ron Harleman of Appleton City, Mo. knows about the manufacturers of agriculture equipment inside and out, as he owns two manufacturing companies himself. That’s why this entrepreneur/farmer says he purchased one of KUHN’s new mower conditioners, the FC 3560 TCD, when he was in the market for new hay harvesting equipment to use on his cow-calf operation.
“Being an equipment manufacturer myself allows me to see the finer points,” says Harleman, who sees a lot of them in his new center-pivot mower conditioner.
He anticipates mowing roughly 500 total acres with it every year, including sudangrass that gets to be upwards of six feet tall.
Harleman operates Springwater Ranch in west central Missouri with his wife, Sherry. It’s a 120-head cow-calf operation with background calves. He uses Angus bulls on his commercial cows which are mostly Angus or black baldie with some Charolais influence. He sells calves in the fall weighing 800 to 850 pounds. This 55-year-old lifelong farmer operates 520 acres.
Harleman also owns two manufacturing companies – Harleman Mfg. LLC, which builds skidsteer attachments and rock drilling equipment for ag and utility applications, and Harleman Global Utility Products, which engineers, designs and fabricates for the utility industry. He manufactures equipment such as tree saws, brush cutters, tree pullers and rock augers, selling that equipment throughout the U.S. and Canada.
This businessman is, however, a farmer through and through, having raised cattle since he was 12 years old, when he’d buy bottle calves from dairies and put them on 25 head of nurse cows. His dad was a row-crop farmer and Harleman himself used to row-crop 1,500 acres until 1996. His heart remains in the beef business.
Harleman is not one bit afraid of experimenting. He grows primarily forage. He no-till plants rye grain and inter-seeds turnips into fescue for fall and winter pasture, which he rotationally grazes. In May or sometimes early June, he mows and bales the feed from those fields, making individually wrapped baleage. He’ll then no-till sudangrass and harvest that resulting baleage. His is a highly productive system yielding 150 bales of rye (weighing 1,550 pounds apiece) off 20 acres, and then 77 bales of sudan/fescue (weighing a little over 2,000 pounds each) off the same acreage. He says if they don’t get an early frost, he might anticipate another 75 to 80 bales from a second cutting of sudan/fescue in the fall. Applying 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre five weeks after no-tilling in the sudangrass is crucial to get it up and started so the fescue won’t choke it out. After baling he hits the sudangrass with more nitrogen.
The sudangrass gets to be as tall as a man and the rye baleage is also heavy crop. He’s getting 6 1/2 to 7 tons per acre with this system. That demands some heavy-duty equipment for mowing and conditioning.
Harleman chose the FC 3560 TCD because he wanted a flail-type mower conditioner, a pull-type and a center-pivot machine that allows him to mow on the left or the right side of the tractor. He’s impressed by the fact that the gearbox pivots with the tractor so the drive shaft is always in constant alignment.
“The nice thing is the flotation built into it. It follows the contours of the ground with smooth action,” he says. “It floats over the ground without a lot of pressure, rather than just pounding and dragging on it,” he says of mowing to a residue height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches.
The FC 3560 has a working width of 11 feet, six inches, with the ability to lay a windrow that’s anywhere from three feet, seven inches all the way to 10 feet, four inches.
Harleman purchased his new mower conditioner from Beaty Farm Equipment in Eldorado Springs, Mo. He says the local KUHN dealer knew he’s been influenced by European farming practices and this particular mower conditioner had been successfully used in Europe, too.
He says with this mower, he puts the forage in a four-and-a-half-foot wide swath that he’ll bale right behind (not raking it first). However, he likes the flexibility of going much wider, too.
Over the years, Harleman has had other KUHN mowing and raking equipment, like a nine-foot, three-point-hitch disk mower, and he has a KUHN SpeedRake. (He notes he might rake in a light crop year.)
“Their equipment reminds me of our own. It’s super-heavy-duty and ‘bulletproof,’” he characterizes of KUHN’s rugged machinery. “There’s not a lot of light stuff on it. It will last for years.”
Another feature that impresses him about the new FC 3560 TCD is that it also “pulls easy” without using a lot of horsepower; the minimum requirement is 93 horsepower.
Harleman also likes the ability to change the blades quickly and easily.
“It has quick-change cutting blades - instead of taking out a bolt and nut, you can change all the blades in a matter of minutes,” he says. Rather than 10 minutes to change a blade, he estimates the job is reduced to 15 seconds.
Additionally, he likes the cover over the cutterbar that features an easy-access latch and fold-back.
“The cutterbar door slides up and back for easy access to service the cutterbar without having to crawl under a shield,” he remarks.
All in all, the FC 3560 TCD is up to the challenge of cutting and conditioning a lot of heavy forage on this productive beef operation, making quick work of it to boot. Its quality equipment, Harleman says.