The innovative Opener Series rake from Schinckel Hayrakes is mounted to the front of the tractor and has simplified the task of hay raking while improving the crop quality.
When used in combination with any type of rear rake (V, rotary or roller bar) the front-mounted rake pushes the crop away from the path of the tractor as the rear rake regathers it together into a single row.
This way the tractor avoids running over and damaging the crop while the front-rear rake combination creates a perfect windrow.
Simon Schinckel says he has demonstrated his Opener Series rake in many different conditions and it works every time.
Schinckel Hayrakes is based in Naracoorte SA, and Simon says the idea for the Opener rake came to him when he saw the many crops that had been cut down early with 9 to 12m (30 to 40ft) header fronts because of poor growing conditions in the 2018 season.
“I noticed that rows waiting to be raked together for baling were spaced anywhere from .9 to 2.4m (3 to 8ft) apart, so it was going to be a big issue for raking.
“I have been in the hayrake industry for 28 years, and I could see that driving a tractor and rake down these rows wasn’t going to work satisfactorily. The tractor would have to run on top of both rows, which would pack it into the ground.
“This would make it difficult to rake cleanly, knock leaf off and lower the quality of the hay.
“Straddling one row with a tractor and rake isn’t an option, so people would have to use an inline rake, which doesn’t produce a nice evenly-shaped windrow for baling like a V Rake does.”
Simon put his thinking cap on and came up with a unique but simple system – the Opener Series. It is effective because the tractor always runs on clean ground.
David and Stephen Allen farm a couple of thousand hectares south of Goroke in western Victoria. Each year they devote 200 to 300 hectares to hay to feed both their own stock and to sell on to others.
The Allens aim for pure clover hay for the most part but sometimes produce a clover and oats mix. Mowing is done with a combination of front and rear mounted mowers producing 3m swathes.
David and Stephen were already running a 16-reel Schinckel V-rake but found they were being left with a line of hay in the middle of the swathe that wasn’t getting shifted. There was also the problem of the tractor running over a portion of the product before it could be raked.
By introducing a Schinckel Opener rake mounted on an A-frame attachment on the front of the tractor, the Allens were able to solve both those problems at once.
As an added benefit, they have found that as the Opener rake turns the hay out one way in front of the tractor and the rear rake pulls it back in.
The hay ends up with just a single twist in it instead of being bound up in a corkscrew and this makes for easier feeding of the crop when it comes time to bale it.
The obvious advantages of that being faster baling with fewer blockages or other issues.
The Allens have also found that running the Opener rake on its own can provide a number of benefits.
One of their cut and drying crops got hit with a good 20mm of rain but with the Opener rake they found they could easily get it all turned over without any loss in quality.
David said they like to turn their drying clover anyway because it’s a heavy crop and can go black underneath as it dries.
Turning it maintains its colour and eliminates any damp patches, which pays off in better prices for the baled product.
The Allens have run the Opener rake on the front of their 140kW (190hp) Case IH tractor for only a single season but say they are continually finding new uses for it.
They’re also happy with the low wear and tear on the rake and its low maintenance requirement.
As long-standing Schinckel customers they’re impressed with the build quality of Schinckel products and the service they get from the company.
Scott Campbell farms at Keith in south east SA on a mixed operation that runs sheep as well as producing Lucerne seed and hay, cereal crops and oats and hay.
The Campbell property employs flood irrigation and this means Scott has been able to get two hay crops off a year over the past two seasons using irrigation in the summer.
In total he is making 4000 to 5000 bales a year.
Scott mows his hay with an X8 Pottinger Butterfly mower on a Fendt 936 tractor and tries to spread it out as much as possible behind the mower to accelerate the drying process.
Creating very wide rows means Scott faces the same problem as the Allens when it comes time to rake.
The tractor drives over some of the cut, which creates the potential for contamination and can mean moisture is drawn back into the row – causing further problems when it comes time to bale.
Adding the Schinckel Opener rake into his system has solved that problem for Scott and he runs it on a 148kW (200hp) John Deere 7200R with a Pottinger, 4-rotor rotary rake on the rear.
Rain is a constant where Scott farms and he had even gone to the effort of tracking down a rare New Holland hay inverter to turn wet crop but he, too, has found the Schinckel Opener is a superior tool for this job.
Scott is also a fan of the robust build and low maintenance requirement of the Schinckel Opener and says it does an excellent job of ground following on his flood irrigated paddocks where he needs to negotiate ramps over the banks at the paddock boundaries.
On the whole, Scott said the Opener has been a great addition to his system and provides a lot of options to more easily move hay around as needed.
Patents are pending worldwide on the Opener Series rakes, that are built with standard components off the Schinckel Hayrake shelf.
It uses four reels per side and has a castor wheel on each raking arm and a dual castor in the front centre pivot.
For further information call Simon Schinckel on 0428 838 524 or go to the Schinckel Hayrake website: www.schinckelhayrakes.com.au to check out working videos.