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Rotary Cutter Tips to Improve Cut Quality

John Deere Rotary Cutter

Rotary Cutter Tips

Adjust cutter and operation using the following guidelines to reduce or eliminate windrowing and streaking. Adjustments required may vary depending on crop and cutting conditions.

  • Operate at rated tractor PTO speed.

  • In heavy material, decrease tractor ground speed.

  • Lower cutter height (also improves blade suction).

  • Ensure machine is equipped with sharp, undamaged blades. Ensure correct blades are installed for gearbox rotation.

  • Check wing to center section leveling and verify settings of air bag suspension. Cutters should be operated with wing hydraulics in float position.

  • Verify that all gearboxes have the correct part number and are rotating in the correct direction.

  • Set machine initially with the blades 1 - 1.5 inches (25 - 35 mm) lower at the front to allow material to leave the cutting chamber quickly. Some cutting conditions may require adjustments to the front to rear leveling for best performance.

  • Install distribution ramps on cutter wing sections. (Note: not compatible with dual blades or shredding kit.) Refer to the cutter parts catalog for the correct kit for 15 ft. or 20 ft. cutters. Distribution ramps will improve spreading of material behind the cutter.

  • Install anti-windrow deflectors. These deflectors will prevent material being thrown from the wing sections into the center section. If the cutter has deflectors on both the wing and center sections, remove the center section deflectors. (Note: anti-windrow deflectors are not compatible with MX15 cutters.)

  • Streaking may be reduced by following the above recommendations and by adjusting tractor tread spacing to be wider than the cutter hinge area. Note that some streaking on sharp turns is normal due to spacing between the wing and center sections.

  • In some row crop conditions, streaking may occur on cutters with anti-windrow deflectors when crop is pushed to the side by the deflectors. Cutting notches in the deflectors I line with the crop rows may allow crop to enter the cutting chamber easier. Notches should be approximately 3 inches (75 mm) high and sufficient width to allow all crop in that row to enter.


In some row crop conditions streaking may occur if the crop is too dense, changing the direction of the blades may improve the circulation inside the cutting chamber

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