This year, CLAAS marks a special anniversary of the combine, its 75th year in operation.
The CLAAS combine harvester came onto the agricultural scene in Europe in the summer of 1936. In that same year, at the Zschernitz Manor near Halle in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, August Claas unveiled a tractor-trailed machine which he had developed at his plant in Harsewinkel in Westphalia.
The concept itself was ingenious, although the idea came many years too early. Many of the necessary technologies such as high performance tractors, hydraulics, electrics, etc. had yet to be developed for tractor-hitched combine harvesters. The prototype was officially showcased to the German agricultural machinery industry with the hope of winning the industry over to the combine
(OMAHA, Neb.) Combine harvesters make a substantial contribution to worldwide food production – virtually no other invention hashad the kind of impact on world production that this workhorse has. The combine harvester performs an operational process whichhas historically demanded an enormous physical output in the field and on the farm: the combine travels across the field cutting thecrop, threshing out the valuable grain with minmum losses, and finally collects the harvested grain in a large grain tank. It does thisvery quickly, and on a huge scale. This year, CLAAS marks a special anniversary of the combine, its 75th year in operation.
The CLAAS combine harvester came onto the agricultural scene in Europe in the summer of 1936. In that same year, at theZschernitz Manor near Halle in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, August Claas unveiled a tractor-trailed machine which hehad developed at his plant in Harsewinkel in Westphalia. From day one, this “reaper-binder” delivered a perfect flow of grain as ittraversed the field, with the material transported away in sacks – a revolution in agriculture was born.
A number of American combine harvesters, also tractor-trailed, had been used in Europe as early as the 1920s, but these machinesproved to be unsuitable for the compact, often damp or flat-lying European crops. A widespread opinion soon developed amonghands-on farmers and agricultural scientists in Europe that a combine harvester approach as pioneered in the United States wouldnot be suitable for European cereals harvesting, with its long straw, and often weed-infested characteristics.
Up until that point, cereals in Germany had been chopped manually by scythe and were dried in sheaves, or placed or stored in loftenvironments to dry. Stationary threshing machines later came into use, which right up until the very darkest days of winter wereused to separate the grain from the stalks and heads.
August Claas, who in 1913 founded an agricultural machinery company together with his brothers Theo and Franz, was resolute inhis belief that European cereals, too, could be suitable for combine harvesting. His son Helmut Claas, who would later go on to lead
the agricultural machinery company to world recognition, recalls: “My father, together with Walter Brenner, an assistant of ProfessorVormfelde at the University of Bonn, had developed a prototype as early as the beginning of the 1930s. It was a machine builtaround the Lanz Bulldog, making for a highly modern combine harvester with a cutterbar at the front. Up to that point in time,therehad never been anything like it anywhere in the world.”
The concept itself was ingenious, although the idea came many years too early. Many of the necessary technologies such as highperformancetractors, hydraulics, electrics, etc. had yet to be developed for tractor-hitched combine harvesters. The prototype wasofficially showcased to the German agricultural machinery industry with the hope of winning the industry over to the combineharvester concept. However, nobody showed any interest. “In that case, we’ll go it alone”, said August Claas, vowing to continuethe design.
The breakthrough came in 1936 as a trailed combine harvester with side-mounted cutterbar. Claas unveiled his model at theZschernitz Manor before a large number of experienced and highly sceptical farmers from the central German regions; the first fullyfunctional reaper-binder to be manufactured in Europe. Provided all went to plan, the machine facilitated a daily harvesting output of1,100 bushels (30 tonnes) of wheat. In the following six years, 1,450 prototypes of the successful machine were manufactured.
The first self-propelled combine harvester, i.e. with integrated engine, was launched on the market by CLAAS in 1953. This selfpropelled
harvesting system went on to prove itself time and again. In the following decades, CLAAS developed ever more efficientcombine harvesters for all types of crops, climates and fields around the globe.
The latest combine harvester from CLAAS, the award-winning LEXION 700 Series was introduced in August 2010. As part of a 10Hour Challenge, the second largest machine in the new range, the LEXION 670 TT harvested over 51,000 bushels of corn over a tenhour period outside of Yorkville, Illinois.
Today, 75 years on from the first CLAAS combine harvester, CLAAS continues to push the limits of the capacity and performance ofthe modern day combine. To learn more about the history of CLAAS combines and watch videos of machines in action, visitmycombine.claas.com
What memorable experiences have you had with your CLAAS combine?
We would like to hear your stories and experiences and to see your pictures and films documenting the 75-year-long partnershipbetween CLAAS combines and those who use them. And – if you like – we will show them to others. Our idea is to create a bookcontaining the greatest CLAAS combine stories from all over the world.