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Chopping Corn with the Gamble Family

Neil: Neil from Messick's here, out today with the Gamble family running a KRONE Forage harvester. If you've ever been curious what it's like to run a Forage harvester, come along with me here today and we'll show you some of the skill that is involved in operating these enormous machines.
Neil: Tell me a little bit about your farm. How long have you guys farmed for?
Interviewee 1: I took over from my dad in 2000, and he's been farming since 1948.
Neil: Okay. Is that when you track the beginning of your family farm too, or does it go back before that?
Interviewee 1: No, it goes before that, but that's when dad started.
Neil: Okay. He had family before then even?
Interviewee 1: Yes.
Neil: What's your operation look like at this point? Custom harvesting and stuff I know, but what do you guys do for yourselves?
Interviewee 1: We have beef cattle.
Neil: Okay.
Interviewee 1: We raise beans and corn and soybeans and hay, and we cut barley and wheat and everything, and then we feed a lot of them. We've got about around a thousand head of cattle.
Neil: Most of your chopping is for yourself then or for others?
Interviewee 1: No, we do about half and half. We used to do a lot more custom work, but we started buying a few farms. A couple farms come up for sale local here to us, and we started. I told Brady, I said, "We're going to buy them and take them up for sale because you only get a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a farm beside you." We're pretty gung-ho on that.
Neil: As long as I'm not distracting you too much, tell me what you're doing here. Because you're driving the machine around the corner and also looking behind you and aiming your spout because your cart's straight behind you.
Interviewee 1: You've got to watch these tree limbs, and then the guys dodge the tree limbs, and then you've got to dodge them more or less.
Neil: This is the hardest pass right here, right?
Interviewee 1: Absolutely.
Neil: When the cart's behind you like this.
Interviewee 1: Yes. What up? I got metal. Metal. Now that's a metal alert. Now they took a fence right here, so there's probably a piece of wire sticking up. See that?
Neil: Yes.
Interviewee 1: Right there it is. That would kill a cow. Modern technology is unbelievable. We get in hay ground, and you'll dig and dig and dig in them windrows and can't find it. If you stay long enough and dig for it, you'll find it.
Neil: The one thing that's a little unique on some current choppers is this head.
Interviewee 1: Easy collection.
Neil: Have you run a regular Kemper-style head before?
Interviewee 1: I used to have new ones, and they all had Kemper-type heads. We done corn the other day that was rootworm, terrible. it had sled runners, one or two feet, just out like that. The corn was about four feet tall, and we cut that, and we got dang near every ounce of it. With a Kemper head, it would have cut that off, and it would have laid right on that head, and it wouldn't have pushed her through because the stalks were so rotten.
Neil: With a little experience, this is your preference at this point, you'd say?
Interviewee 1: Yes. Definitely. This has a kernel processor in it which once you chop, it smashes the grain and the cob. It used to be whenever you chopped corn, you'd have a big round circle of cob in your salad, and then the cows would root that away. Then the whole kernels of corn that didn't get cut with a knife would bypass through the animal. Now with the processing, the cattle gets to digest all that.
Neil: The machine then is chopping the standing corn, grinding up the stalk, smashing the kernels down so they're digestible.
Interviewee 1: It has a kernel processor, they call it, the roller mill in there. It smashes. One roll runs a little faster than the other to give it that little bit of a ripping motion.
Neil: Then this doesn't go straight to the animal then, right? You had to have--
Interviewee 1: Well, we've got to bag it or trench it or silo it. It has to go through a fermentation.
Neil: What's the fermentation process then? Because, again, we're largely talking to maybe a non-farm audience here, right?
Interviewee 1: They wanted at least a three-week minimum for it to go through a fermentation.
Neil: In that fermentation, what's happening exactly?
Interviewee 1: The stalk, actually, it heats, and then it more or less cures.
Neil: At the end of all that, it heats and cures, and more digestible at that point?
Interviewee 1: Yes. Then also, they use an additive which I have on the side, which is right here. I have a liquid down here, and I dry They don't want it to get hot hot. Because when it gets hot, it loses value in the silage. What they want it to do, they put that inoculant on, they call it, preservative. That helps it go through so it don't get as hot, but so it don't lose the value of it.
Neil: Okay. Who has the harder job here then, you or the cart?
Interviewee 2: I think I do, but all they have to do is keep it beside me. I've got to get it in the cart.
Neil: I know you run the chopper too. Who's got the harder job, you or your dad?
Interviewee 2: I believe the chopper.
Neil: The chopper? When you're driving back here, what are you thinking about?
Interviewee 2: I usually just try to keep in the center of the spout and always watch his taillights. Because if he stops, you can run into him really quick. If you watch his taillights, they light up.
Neil: That's a fair point because we're close.
Interviewee 2: Yes, you're within, try to be as close as you can.
Neil: Yes, so he sees something in the field and stops on the brakes.
Interviewee 2: Right here, it ain't too bad. Whenever you're opening up a new field around a fence row, there can be a tree that fell down. In the standing corner, you don't know it's there until you're more or less in it.
Neil: Yes, so the dance of you being in the right spot and him aiming I think is pretty interesting. In a case like this, you're straight behind.
Interviewee 2: Yes, it ain't too bad. There on the corner, if you try to make it wide and keep your wagon where it is, because whenever you turn the chopper, obviously the spout moves with it. You've got a lot to look at whenever you're opening up here. You're trying to watch your head and watch the wagon.
Neil: You ever blast the tractor before?
Interviewee 2: Oh, yes. You think it's coming through the windshield. I guarantee you.
Neil: Do you have a good sense of when the wagon's full, or are you relying on--
Interviewee 2: I like, whenever I'm filling a wagon, to fill the back. Fill the whole bottom first, and then start at the back, and then I keep slowing down the wagon. Obviously, I can see the back's getting full, and as I slow down until I'm full, it's right here at the front where I can see. I always keep an eye on the chopper. He like waves his hand every once in a while whenever you're full, and you know when to stop.
Neil: You pulled this piece of wire out earlier. What's the craziest thing you guys have found in the field?
Interviewee 2: There's been a lot of crazy things. We cut a coyote clean in half one day when we were cutting corn like this. That metal detector definitely saves a lot. One day, we found a whole turtle shell off the hay bind. It has the knives on it and everything. We were cutting hay. Boy, if that would have went through the machine, that would have just demolished everything.
Neil: Yes, thousands of dollars.
Interviewee 2: t's crazy, like hunks of wire like that that'll be laying in the field and it'll grow up with the corn. You wouldn't think that, but that's the only way for that to get in the machine.
Neil: You guys have a bunch of different tractors, so what is your preference for transmission?
Interviewee 2: Definitely a CVT for sure. We had one of our 315s. Something happened to it and they brought us out a T8 power shift to use. I jumped in it and I stalled it I think twice until I ever got ready on it again. As easy as get in and put it in gear and go. I think the power shift are definitely more snappy, like torque-y, but I don't know. I'd much rather have this.
Neil: What's the guts of the inside of the bagger? Is that actually, that would pack it before it pushes it back in?
Interviewee 2: Yes. It's like a big rotor, I don't know how big around it, like with teeth on it. It spins, and it just keeps pushing it in.
Neil: It's actually pushing it, forcing it back.
Interviewee 2: Yes, and then them cables are on brakes. There's disc brakes on each cable there and that--
Neil: That holds it.
Interviewee 2: I could just pump the brakes till--
Neil: You leave the tractor in neutral.
Interviewee 2: Yes, tractor's in neutral, then it's packing it in there. It's crazy how much it really packs.
Neil: Yes, you just think in terms of the amount of material going in versus how fast the tractor moves back.
Interviewee 2: There's so many different types of baggers. There's some where you're running into what you need like 300 horsepower on to run on, but you can unload a wagon in two-and-a-half minutes. It's quick because you can [unintelligible 00:10:11]
Neil: Special thanks to the Gamble family for having us out today. It is awesome to see these machines at 800,000, 900,000 horsepower chewing up corn at 10 miles an hour, spitting it out into a wagon. It is a phenomenally incredible powerful piece of equipment, and it's super fun to watch. If you're shopping for a piece of machinery like this or if you have parts or service needs for equipment you've already got, give us a call at Messick's. We are available on 800-222-3373 or online at


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