Article Archives
“A Better Header for ‘Flowers”

Friday, September 15, 2006
filed under: Equipment

Remember that ad slogan, “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company”? Jim Broten liked the combine header he was using so much, he brought it over from Eastern Europe to make it in the U.S.

Broten is one of those guys who always seems to be moving a mile a minute, serving on various ag boards, growing about a half dozen crops, and running Sheyenne Tooling and Manufacturing near Cooperstown, N.D.

The company makes various ag and construction equipment, including skidsteer attachments, ditchers, conveyors and augers. In 2005, the company began manufacturing the ‘Sunmaster’ harvest header that can be attached to nearly any make of combine.

Broten obtained the rights from a Hungarian company to manufacture the header after using the header to cut corn and sunflower on his own farm for 10 years, first running two 8’ headers and now two 12’ headers at 30” row spacings (the company also makes 12’, 16’ and 18’ row headers for 20” row spacings, which work for solid-seeded sunflower).

“I think it’s designed much better for ‘flowers than anything else around,” he says. Here’s what makes the header stand out:

Cutting knife at the back end of the gathering chain – A rotary star cutting knife positioned at the back of each gathering chain helps for more uniform feeding with less chance of crop falling onto the ground or hanging up on row dividers. The star cutting knife is positioned towards the front end of the gathering chains on other row crop headers, making it more likely that when the sunflower head is cut off, some of the heads and shattered seeds slide off of the row dividers and onto the ground.

One gathering chain per row. This helps reduce cost and upkeep. For optimal cutting, speed of the gathering chains on the Sunmaster needs to match the ground speed of the combine.

Vibrating catch pans. Heads and shattered seeds drop onto large catch pans that vibrate up and down via a rocker arm, float forward, and onto the platform header and into the hopper. This steady rocking action of the vibrating pans moves the seeds back to the platform.

Row dividers that go low. The row dividers can be positioned lower to the ground, with each row divider moving up and down independently.

Larger, thicker sickle knives. The sickle bar on traditional sunflower headers is basically only utilizing about two sickle sections per row where the sunflowers are cut off, and those two sickles have to do a lot cutting. The star cutting knife on this header uses four larger and thicker sickle knives per sunflower row. In effect, each star cutting knife cuts only half the amount of material as would an individual sickle section on a sickle bar. It results in a better cut.

Broten says the header design is particularly adept at harvesting sunflower plants that are lodged, broken over, or excessively dry, as well as lodged corn and milo. Cost of the header is more than a straight head with pans, but less than a corn header.

Traditional combine headers (either all row crop or sunflower header with pans) can leave considerable loss in the field. Tests by the original Hungarian maker indicate that the Sunmaster header will harvest 6% to 30% more per field compared to traditional headers. This can add up to where the header can quickly pay for itself, Broten points out.

An extra 6% to 30% in harvest yield from a 1,200 lb/acre yield would be 72 to 360 pounds per acre (1,200 x 6%, 30%). At 10 cents/lb this equals an extra $7.20 to $36 an acre saved, or an additional $3,600 to $18,000 in gross revenue over 500 acres.

“You can see the difference in harvest losses on no-till the following spring just by looking at the volunteer sunflowers,” Broten says.

Confection sunflower growers in particular see the value in preventing seed loss. Dan Schultz, who farms near Grainfield, Kan., has used an 8’ Sunmaster header for six seasons to cut milo as well as oil and confection sunflower. “Confection seeds, that’s where this header really shines,” he says. “You have the surface area of the shaker pans to catch the seeds and sunflower heads. Raising confections, there’s a lot of value in saving seed loss and quality, with a design that handles well with a nice flow from the header into the combine.”

Sheyenne Manufacturing on the Web: – Tracy Sayler

return to top of page

   More about Sunflower ►