Operators who pay special attention to the proper disc-head flotation and a regular service schedule will get their hay cut more efficiently with less downtime.

Take a close look at some basic windrower adjustments.

Header flotation
Adjust header flotation to between 100 and 150 pounds of force at each end. When set properly, the header will start to lift from the ground. Exceeding 150 pounds flotation force may cause damage to the header.

Many premature failures and wear issues are the result of incorrect flotation settings. Not sure if your header is set properly? Here are some things to watch for:

Uneven cut height, poor crop feeding and poor windrow or swath appearance can all be signs that your header is bouncing because it is set too light. Increase the flotation force to reduce bounce.


Having problems with cutting and feeding problems caused by cutter bar, disc or knife damage? Your header may be set too heavy, so decrease the flotation setting.

Cutting height
Another important adjustment is cutting height. Changing the header angle adjusts the cutting height. The header angle is adjustable between 2 degrees and 8 degrees with an approximate cutting height range of 1½ to 3 inches when the tilt cylinder is installed in the front hole on the header.

By placing the cylinder in the rear hole on the header, you can change the tilt from 5 degrees to 10 degrees with an approximate cutting height range of 1 to 2¼ inches. For normal crop conditions, adjust for a mid-position tilt.

Use minimum tilt when you’re taking a first cutting on a new seeding to prevent pulling the crop out of the ground. Minimum tilt is also best in stony fields and when you want to leave slightly longer stubble in a field.

Maximum tilt is best for tough cutting conditions, including when you’re trying to cut a downed crop and when you’re dealing with dead, wet undergrowth. Be sure to use a high-stubble kit for a higher cutting height for cutting pastures or for leaving higher stubble in a field.

Cutter bar inspection
Inspect your cutter bar regularly to reduce downtime. For safety, be sure to lock the header on both sides before working under a raised header, adjusting skid shoes, or prior to transporting the unit on a public road. Wear gloves when inspecting the cutter bar, discs and knives.

Start at one end of the cutter bar and work down the cutter bar, slowly rotating each disc while holding the adjacent disc against the direction of rotation. If one disc suddenly moves, or you feel excessive play, check for internal wear or damage.

Check knives, lifters and discs for damage including any broken, bent, missing or loose hardware.

Check disc timing. Discs should be tangent to each other. Improper timing may indicate internal cutter bar damage.

It’s also a good idea to contact your local dealer if you have questions.  FG


Seth Doman

Crop Preparation Marketing Manager
New Holland