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 customers prefer.

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 baler.
 “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 conveyor.
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 producer.”
 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

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Simpson Farms
Cochran, Georgia