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Illinois Hay: Bale Accumulator Helps Make Up for Lack of Summer Labor – DTN

“Accumulators are important because there are just absolutely no kids available to help.” That’s a little-known fact about hay shared with DTN late Sunday evening by View From the Cab farmer Chase Brown of Decatur, Illinois.

The accumulator Chase referred to is a bale accumulator, used to collect and drop onto the ground small square bales in uniform rectangles of 10 that can be easily picked up with a tractor or a skid-steer loader. From there they’re moved from the field on a hay rack to waiting buyers or to temporary storage.

Many hands make light work. Going back to Chase’s youth and before, haying was done with manual labor by a crew made up mostly of high schoolers on summer vacation. But not anymore. “We think we want to put some hay in the barn, but when there’s just three of us, we usually decide 200 is enough,” he said.

Monday saw perfect weather for harvesting second-cutting alfalfa. “It was really nice hay. Not a weed in the field,” Chase said. “It got a little more bleached than we wanted, but we had a bale accumulator giving us trouble.” That accumulator problem was made even more important when storm clouds appeared. “We didn’t want to, but when we saw rain coming, we went ahead and big baled it. But when the rain got within a couple of miles, it just fizzled and we never got a drop,” he said.

That’s why later in the week, the worn hydraulic accumulator was replaced with a new Kuhns 10 bale accumulator that relies on gravity rather than hydraulics to collect bales, flip them on edge and align them. “We are going to bale a lot of straw this week, so we decided to make the change.”

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