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Agri Marketing magazine created the Product of the Year Award program in 1997 to recognize one agricultural product each year for outstanding marketing impact in the marketplace. Judging criteria include sales and marketing goals, competitive pressure in the marketplace and effective use of marketing tools in the introduction of the product. Ten candidates from diverse industry sectors were submitted to an independent group of judges. And the winner is ...

The Single Tine Separator )STS) is the heart and soul of the most productive combine on the market, the John Deere 9860 STS.
John Deere's 1999 introduction of its 50 Series Combines - featuring the Single Tine Separator (STS) - represented a bold step forward in harvesting technology for the company. If there was a temptation to rest on those laurels, the nap was short indeed, as four years later John Deere unveiled a new, complete harvest package designed to deliver even greater power and performance to its customers.

"When we introduced the 50 Series Combines and the STS four years ago, we really felt we had taken harvesting technology to a new level," says Kelly Granatier, manager of factory marketing, John Deere Harvester Works. "But agriculture is a dynamic business. We knew we needed to keep evolving, keep innovating, if we were committed to keeping our customers - and our company - out front. The result of that commitment is our new 60 Series Combines and new 600 Series Grain Platforms."


The focus of John Deere's continuous improvement efforts weren't simply to develop new features for the 50 Series machines. Rather, the product development and design teams were committed to bringing new, substantive advancements to both the combines and the grain platforms that would deliver genuine value to producers.

"We knew, for instance, when we introduced our 9650 STS and 9750 STS combines that those machines offered capacity that exceeded the capabilities of our 900 Series Platforms. So the development of the new 600 Series Grain Platforms was a key point of emphasis for us," notes Darren Havens, division manager, Marketing, for John Deere Harvester Works. "We also knew, from customer response to the 50 Series STS Combines, that we needed to expand our STS offering. We added the mid-sized, 265-hp 9560 STS and the 9860 STS - the largest combine we've ever produced - so we could provide customers a full range of STS products, from
Class V to Class VIII machines.

"The new grain platforms, the new STS models, and the new engineering advancements throughout all the machines enable us to offer the market a full range of complete harvesting solutions that provide customers with more choices and even better results," Havens adds.


One of the most significant features on the new John Deere 60 Series Combines is the High-Unload-Rate (HUR) system that moves grain at an industry-best 3.3 bushels per second.
Minnesota farmer and custom operator, David Stock (David Stock Farm Services Inc.), has seen firsthand the results of John Deere Harvester Works' latest product development efforts. The Fergus Falls operator purchased and tested three John Deere 9860 STS Combines before they were placed into full production for 2004. Last year, he ran the machines in wheat from late May through the end of August before switching to corn and soybeans. By the end of the season he had logged more than 800 separator hours on each combine.

"We'd previously owned three 9750 models. There was some additional expense with the 9860 STS Combines, but these machines have already paid their way," Stock says. "Everything about the new harvesting systems is focused on adding production, and added production pays for itself every year."

Stock offers these experiences as examples of the value and benefits he has derived from the new equipment:

Soybeans: "The 35-foot 635 HydraFlex Grain Platform on the 9860 STS Combine increased our productivity in beans by at least 20 percent compared to our 9750 STS with the 30-foot head. The platform's hydraulic float system kept the cutting bar at a consistent height and that, along with the smoother feeding of the crop material, let us run at faster ground speeds. I think the platform helped us capitalize on all the productivity-improving features built into the combine."

Wheat: "Last year's crop was a good test because the volume of straw was at the upper end of the scale in terms of horsepower requirement placed on the combines. We ran a 9860 STS and a 9750 STS with identical platforms. With the 9750, our operating speed in tough conditions was 3 to 3.5 mph. We were able to run a full mile-per-hour faster with the 9860.

Corn: "In 150-bushel corn, we consistently harvested 200 acres per day with a 9860 equipped with a 12-row corn head. That was 20 to 25 percent more productivity than what we got with our 9750 running the same header."


The new 60 Series lineup features eight models, including STS, Walker and CTS (Cylinder Tine-Separator) machines (See chart).

Key to the enhanced productivity of all the new 60 Series Combines is the John Deere PowerTech™ engine technology they share. Depending on the model, the machines are powered by either a 6.8 L, 8.1 L or 12.5 L engine. Each offers a power bulge feature that provides extra torque and power when harvesting in tough conditions. Also, an additional power burst has been designed in, allowing operators to maintain critical ground speed and threshing capacity when unloading on the go.

Additional feature enhancements common to all new 60 Series Combines are:

  • A new fore/aft tilt-frame feederhouse that is standard on all machines, except the Sidehill combine. The 17-degree fore/aft-tilt-angle allows for proper positioning of the platform, ensuring the cutter bar runs parallel to the ground for all tire sizes.

  • A single-point header hook-up that allows the electric and hydraulic connections and the feederhouse/header bottom latch pin engagement to be completed in one swift motion of a lever, which reduces hook-up time by 75 percent.

  • An electro-hydraulically activated feederhouse reverser, conveniently engaged from the armrest console.

  • A heavy-duty variable-drive feederhouse offering greater capacity than previous models. This is especially valuable when running 8- or 12-row cornheads at higher ground speeds.

John Deere also added a variety of improvements and new features specific to the STS machines to further enhance their productivity and operating efficiency. One of the most intriguing is a new high-capacity unloading system, which comes standard on the 9860 STS and optional on the 9760 STS.

"The new high-capacity grain-handling system unloads 3.3 bushels of grain per second," says Ron Moron, product information manager, John Deere Harvester Works. "That's a 150 percent improvement versus previous models, and the fastest unloading rate of any combine produced today."

The system features larger-diameter grain-tank cross-augers (10-inch diameter) that rotate slower in the grain troughs, but move grain more efficiently with less damage. The 17-inch-diameter vertical auger is equipped with a wider flighting pitch to move grain more efficiently with less contact to steel. The unloading auger is also 17 inches in diameter and 22.5 feet in length, allowing for faster on-the-go unloading and more productive time in the field.

Also new to the 60 Series STS Combines:

  • A new concave design with a wider right-hand radius profile, which promotes faster, smoother crop flow with more complete threshing. This wider concave helps reduce overall power consumption in high-volume, tough material-handling crop conditions.

  • Increased shoe-cleaning capacity thanks to a new design that features a 500 mm fan with a larger housing, resulting in better grain cleaning in dry crops or in field conditions that create high chaff loads. A new chaffer more effectively stratifies heavy chaff loads, allowing cleaner amounts of free grain to be deposited through the fixed louvers. The cleaning shoe improvements result in as much as a 50 percent reduction in tailings return on the STS combines, reducing grain damage and contributing to cleaner grain samples in the tank.

  • A new TouchSet™ automatic combine adjustment is available on all new 60 Series STS Combines (standard equipment on the 9860 STS, optional on the 9560 STS, 9660 STS and 9760 STS). The TouchSet system contains 16 pre-programmed crop settings that can automatically adjust functions such as rotor-threshing speed, concave clearance and cleaning fan speed. Operators can customize any preset factory crop settings and create up to five personal crop settings. All settings can be changed on the go from the armrest console.


Like their companion 60 Series Combines, the new 600 Series Grain Platforms combine innovative engineering, advanced technology and quality manufacturing to deliver high performance - as much as 30 percent greater productivity compared to the company's 900 Series Platforms.

Topping the new 12-model lineup is the 635 HydraFlex Platform. "This 35-foot flexible platform is compatible with our 9760 STS and 9860 STS Combines," Moron says. "It offers 16 percent more cutting-width capacity than our 930 Flex Platform and is the most productive platform in the industry."

The new HydraFlex hydraulic float system, featured on all new 600 Series Flex Platforms, allows the cutterbar to maintain a consistent cutting height regardless of ground conditions. This facilitates higher ground speeds compared to conventional mechanical float systems. The 600 Series Platforms also feature a new heavy-duty knife drive system for greater capacity and reliability. And a new high-capacity auger accepts a larger mat of crop material underneath the auger for a smoother, more consistent crop flow into the combine.

The 600 Series Platform lineup includes seven HydraFlex models in widths ranging from 15 to 35 feet, and five rigid platforms of 18 to 30 feet wide. The model designation - the HydraFlex 635 - reflects that particular platform's true cutting width.

From the cutting edge of the new 600 Series Grain Platforms to the high-capacity unloading auger of the 60 Series Combines, the product development and marketing teams of John Deere have delivered a powerful force designed to meet and exceed customers' harvest-time expectations. AM

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