Monticello, Wis., farmer and custom operator Don Witt hesitates to reveal that he will turn 80 years old in December. But he isn’t shy about telling you what he likes about the new Claas Jaguar 990 chopper with Terra Trac that he and his son Mike bought in late August. The smoothness of the ride, the ease of operation and the “fun” of running the machine allows Don to chop all day during the busy corn silage harvest season.
“It’s really quiet and smooth,” Don says. “I bought it for the ride. This chopper lets me chop 12 to 14 hours a day, depending on what we have to do, and that’s after I feed 100 beef cows and their calves at 4:30 in the morning.”
Witt Farms LLC owns 1,000 acres near Monticello in Green County. Mike, 39, is the fifth generation of his family to farm in Green County. They grow 800 acres of alfalfa and 200 acres of corn. All their crops are chopped. Except what they feed to their own cattle, they sell their crops to area farmers. They also custom-harvest 4,000 acres of corn and 2,500 acres of alfalfa for several area dairy farmers.
In addition to the Claas Jaguar 990, the Witts have two other Claas choppers. They chop alfalfa with a 5-year-old Claas Jaguar 970 chopper. Mike uses a 2-year-old Claas Jaguar 970 chopper for harvesting corn silage.
“With both Mike and I chopping corn, we keep 12 semitrucks busy going back and forth to the fields,” Don says.
Like most farmers across the state, Don says the cool, wet spring and wet September delayed the silage harvest to the latest he can remember.
“We’re normally chopping silage from the end of August through Oct. 1,” Mike explains. “But this year with the late-planted corn and all the rain, we didn’t start chopping until Sept. 12. We hope to be done by Oct. 20, but it keeps raining, so we’ll see.”
After the Witts finish harvesting corn silage, they haul manure for a nearby dairy and their own farm.
Don says with all the rain, this is a good year to have tracks on the Claas Jaguar 990 chopper.
“I first saw this chopper two years ago at Agritechnica, the big farm show in Germany,” Don says. “They had one there with the tracks, and I said, ‘That’s the chopper I want to buy.’ I was the first one to have my name on the waiting list. This is the first one they sold in the United States with tracks. We got it in late August from Ritchie’s by Cobb, Wis.”
Despite being 79, Don says he has no plans to slow down or retire.
“My dad tells everybody this is the easiest he’s ever had it farming, and he really enjoys all of the electronic gadgets on the chopper,” Mike says. “I think it helps keep him young, and it’s why he is still farming.”
Don agrees and notes, “When you get older, your toys cost more.”
Check out the slideshow to see photos of the Witt operation.