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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read different post about wheel rake pros and cons. One topic I often see is dirt in/on the raked hay. I must say that issue has never once been discussed within my family or circle of friends. We almost never rake/bale high moisture hay so it’d seem there would only be very minimal dirt contamination. I can see how high moisture hay could have more dust and dirt to adhere to it.
This leads to my question, what exactly is the proper setting-how much down pressure is ideal? We bought a used wheel rake this year and I’d estimate each wheel has at least a 2’ contact to ground patch. Of course that allows for plenty of dust dirt kicked up. If I were to set the wheels with minimal ground contact it’d seem there would be a potential to miss smaller hay between the wheels. I could see there being a possibility of multiple settings depending on the specific hay being raked. Early season ryegrass could get by with less ground contact than 2nd cutting shorter grass hayfields I’m thinking. Obviously an idiot proof setting is what I’ll need to be at as there are a number of different family members that can or will be raking hay on any given day, some are younger and won’t question if the rake is set properly. Disclaimer- this in no way indicates my family has idiots in it😂
 

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Use only as much down pressure as needed to clean the crop up acceptably. In most cases that means minimal tine to dirt contact, in some cases you might need to hit the dirt a bit harder, and in others the crop might rake cleanly with no dirt contact at all.

One factor that really affects how well a wheel rake works is the rake angle. I have found that wheel rake manufactures are rather over optimistic about how wide their rake can run and do a good job. I find that running a wheel rake at roughly 75% of its maximum width gives the best results most of the time. In very easy to rake crops 100% width will work well, but for me anyway, easy to rake crop is an exception, not the norm.
 

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Running the rake at less of a angle will also determine how much hay is being missed.

Went from a 12 wheel to 14 and set to same width and it makes quite a difference in certain conditions,driven on hay especially.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, with what you guys have posted running full width would require greater ground contact to eliminate missed hay between wheels.
The cons to running more down pressure are dirt in hay and wearing out/breaking teeth?

the only dirt I’ve ever noticed in hay was mud, you know hitting that occasional wet spot in springtime. Is dry dirt in dry hay really an issue?
 

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So, with what you guys have posted running full width would require greater ground contact to eliminate missed hay between wheels.

I don’t really ever see hay slipping “between” the wheels, more like it just goes under the wheels.

The cons to running more down pressure are dirt in hay and wearing out/breaking teeth?

Pretty much

the only dirt I’ve ever noticed in hay was mud, you know hitting that occasional wet spot in springtime. Is dry dirt in dry hay really an issue?

Depends who you are dealing with. The dairy world looks at dirt (ash) pretty closely. I imagine horse hay is similar. For beef, I don’t think anybody gets too bothered about it.
Of course, having a little dirt in your hay doesn’t do the baler any favors. But again, not a real huge deal.
 

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I have been running wheel rakes on and off for about 40 years and have never noticed dirt in the windrows.

I agree with the comments on not setting them too wide. Also, wider turns make better windrows if you have to turn.

My rule of thumb with setting ground pressure is to raise the rake and check the gap between coils in the tension spring (or springs). Then lower the rake until the gap is about half what it is when the wheels are hanging. That's the setting I use for raking.

Roger
 

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to your question about dirt etc in hay.........YES .......i went away from a wheel rake for that very reason........they will clean a field.....they will rake sticks...rocks..mud..dead/live animals...thatch...dirt ..leaves..nests....pull up some plants by roots...and windrow it for you......as others have said steep angles are your friend...low ground pressure is your friend.......this year i went to a rotary rake to avoid ground contact all together and will never go back.....but we are making small square bales for picky horse customers which is a different world than cow hay, people that feed flakes of hay from square bales by hand can tell the difference if your feeding rounds to cows from a tractor seat you probably dont care or can even tell ....if you run a lot of ground pressure you can even seed behind one :) ....but they are FAST and less costly
 

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ttazzman
I realize rotary rake teeth if adjusted properly don't have ground contact but what prevents a rotary from raking nests/sticks/dead/live animals if present in a field ? How high from ground can rotary rake teeth be successfully operated & get the large majority of the hay?? I understand rotary raked windrows tend to dry better than windrows from other style rakes but normally I don't rake my flat cut swathes until hay is ready to bale so that advantage is of no value to me & is very important to other hay baler operators

I personally think the windrow's I've seen made from a rotary isn't as flat/level as my H&S Hi-cap wheel rake & following a rotary rake would require more rd baler operator expertise to make consistently level rd bales
 

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ttazzman
I realize rotary rake teeth if adjusted properly don't have ground contact but what prevents a rotary from raking nests/sticks/dead/live animals if present in a field ? How high from ground can rotary rake teeth be successfully operated & get the large majority of the hay?? I understand rotary raked windrows tend to dry better than windrows from other style rakes but normally I don't rake my flat cut
For us (small sq bale) market .....i cut with high stubble shoes (5-6") .....i run my tedder at about 1-2" or lower if needed if i get any trash it comes from the tedder picking it up and mixing it in......i run my rake about the same height or higher depending on how things are sitting on the stubble....it will pick up items within its raking height but it doesnt dig things up and it seems like bulky items such as we have a lot of box turtles will get tossed out of the windrow instead of rolled into it ....it will pick up a nest if its in the cut hay and incorporate it in the windrow....i also noticed this year it tossed a set of shed antler pieces out of the windrow....

as far as windrow type....what i see is a one wide tall fluffy mound with a rotary where i would get two roped windrows kinda rolled together with a wheel rake....but yes the rotary windrow is significantly taller and fluffier than the wheel rake windrow in the same hay
 

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Are you positive a wheel rake operated at ""correct height in 5-6'' crop stubble"" will kick up much dirt/debris into hay? The photo's I've seen of rotary raked windrows resembled a teepee(narrow & tall) looking along length of windrows Your windrows evidently appear much better than the windrows in photo below!! My H&S wheel rake doesn't rope hay that I can determine.
 

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Rotary rake windrow curtain spacing out from the rotor has a lot to do with windrow shape. The curtain determines how much space is allowed for the hay to fall into, close to the rotor will give taller windrow than spaced further away. Again it is what does the operator want and how they setup the machine.
 

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Are you positive a wheel rake operated at ""correct height in 5-6'' crop stubble"" will kick up much dirt/debris into hay? The photo's I've seen of rotary raked windrows resembled a teepee(narrow & tall) looking along length of windrows Your windrows evidently appear much better than the windrows in photo below!! My H&S wheel rake doesn't rope hay that I can determine.
Picture 1 is a terrible windrow with clumps, could be the operator or how it was cut picure 2 much better windrow, but as FCF said curtain spacing has a lot to do with it.
 

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Are you positive a wheel rake operated at ""correct height in 5-6'' crop stubble"" will kick up much dirt/debris into hay? The photo's I've seen of rotary raked windrows resembled a teepee(narrow & tall) looking along length of windrows Your windrows evidently appear much better than the windrows in photo below!! My H&S wheel rake doesn't rope hay that I can determine.
i have used bar/wheel/rotary rakes ......its been my experience wheel rakes will rake everything they touch including the ground ......its also been my experience that hay raked with a bar or wheel rake is rolled on the ground till it reaches the windrow.......my rotary rake works similar to a pitchfork picking the hay off the stubble and tossing it in a windrow ......my windrow shape is similar to the picture you posted with the Red rake (exactly what i want it to look like) ....a twin rotary would make a windrow shape very acceptable to a round baler in my opinion (no direct experience with a twin rotary yet :) )
 
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