S.D. Growers Convert Row-Crop Head
After seeding sunflower on 1,000 acres of hailed-out wheat ground in 2008, brothers Jerry and Ross Sperry knew they were looking at a challenging harvest season — especially since they’d already planted another 1,000 acres of ‘flowers earlier that spring. To cover all that ground, they started searching for a 12-row John Deere row-crop header to replace the eight-row unit they had been using. But that search proved fruitless.
Wanting to stick with a JD row-crop model, the Blunt, S.D., growers then came up with the idea of converting their eight-row into a 12-row unit. After buying a used six-row JD head from a neighbor, they contacted Harv’s Farm Supply in Giltner, Neb., a firm that has worked with combine headers for more than three decades, custom building, rebuilding, repairing and converting heads of numerous makes and models.
Taking delivery on a 12-row / 30” unit frame from Harv’s, Jerry and Ross’ son George went to work. “I thought my eight-row head was in good shape until we tore into it,” Jerry quips. “Our neighbor’s six-row — which hadn’t been used in seven years — was in much better condition.”
The Sperrys replaced the bearings on eight of the row units and replaced the belts on all 12. Some also received new knives. They then installed their own rear screen and side shields and repainted the customized 12-row header. Jerry estimates their total investment — including the new frame and the six-row purchased header — came to about $20,000. “And as soon as we were done with it, a guy offered me $30,000,” he chuckles. “So I guess we made the right decision.”
Including custom work for neighbors, the Sperrys ran the 12-row header (mounted on their JD 9760 combine) across about 3,000 acres of sunflower in 2008. That year’s crop averaged around 2,500 lbs/ac. In 2009 they used it on about 1,000 acres, averaging about 2,200 lbs. They expect to cover around 800 acres of ’flowers this coming harvest. — Don Lilleboe
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