|Bale in the Winter
Bale in the Rain
Under a shelter, this homemade rig unrolls round bales to convert them
to square bales.
On a late winter day, with rain falling outside, Whipple Simpson was
busy under his shelter barn baling bermudagrass hay. Actually he
was rebaling the Coastal by taking hay from large round bales made the
previous summer and converting it into small rectangular bales his horse
Simpson, from Cochran, Ga., was able to rebale the hay that day by using
his own invention. It took five years and many hours of cutting and
welding, but with help from outsiders on hydraulics he came up with a machine
that unrolls round bales and feeds the unwrapped forage into a nearby square
“We are committed to unrolling,” says Simpson. With 300
acres of bermudagrass and a wheat straw business, he doesn’t have the time
or the labor to make only square bales during harvesting.
Simpson designed the hay unrolling system to be a three-person
job that could be done any day of the year. “I fight labor just like
other farmers,” he says. “Labor is scarce, high, and sorry.”
He mainly relies on his son Henry.
Selling Straw. The unroller is especially handy for wheat
straw. “We have a 3 ½ week period to put up straw,” he says.
His goal is to unroll and rebale 10,000 rolls, including 3,000 to 4,000
rolls of Bermuda and 6,000 rolls of wheat straw. He sells his bermudagrass
for about $150 per ton, plus shipping.
Simpson uses a 50-hp motor to run the square baler and to operate
the hydraulic system for the conveyor belting. He operates the controls
from a 5x7 foot platform with two seats, one for the operator and a second
for anyone training to use the controls. In recent months, he enclosed
the platform in a heated and air-conditioned booth.
Under his barn, two of the unrolling machines are stationed at
right angles to the square baler for good visibility from the elevated
platform. “Making the turn helps loosen the hay and separate it for
rebaling,” adds Simpson.
| He designed the unroller to take advantage of gravity,
to pull the hay down and loosen it. The hay is loosened as it drops
from one conveyor to another and by a dethatcher cylinder on the second
Two-minute job. “It takes two minutes for a man to place a roll
in the machine and pull off the clipped strings,” says Simpson. “In
six minutes, I can have the hay from that roll on the truck. I save
two minutes in bale dumping and string cutting by having two unrollers
instead of one.”
Simpson’s square baler is a Deere model equipped with a short tongue
to make the system more compact.
In unrolling and rebaling, Simpson says he doesn’ change the
character of the hay. “If it goes in long and stemmy, it comes out
long and stemmy. If you unroll hay, it will make you a better hay
He believes there is a market for his unrolling system among
serious hay producers. So far, he has built the devices only for
his own use. If he proceeds with manufacturing and commercial sales,
he believes the machinery will sell for about *$13,000 for a single unrolling
system and *$21,000 for a double system.
“We’ve done for hay and straw what the module builder did for
cotton,” says Simpson. “We’ve extended the baling season.”
*Article does not reflect current pricing. Systems start at $15,000.
Courtesy of Progressive Farmer