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He Built His Own Wildflower Seed Harvester
After he couldn't find anything on the market that would do the job at an affordable price, Mervin Wallace and his brother-in-law John Clinton of Jefferson City, Mo., built their own "push-type" wildflower seed harvester using parts out of a gas-powered hedge trimmer.
"It's built simple and is lightweight which makes it easy to use. We spent less than $2,000," says Wallace, who manages a nursery where he grows 93 different varieties of wildflowers on about 5 acres of land. He also harvests wildflower seed on land owned by neighbors.
They removed the handle from an Echo hedge trimmer and mounted the 30-in. long cutterbar and 2-cycle gas engine on a home-built, 2-wheeled cart. A 36-in. dia. reel that's ground-driven off one of the wheels gently pushes flowers into the cutterbar and back into the 6-ft. long, 30-in. wide cart. When the cart is full, Wallace simply scoops the seeds out by hand onto a tarp for drying.
To drive the reel, they welded a bicycle sprocket onto a steel shaft, then welded the shaft to the cart's right hand wheel. They mounted an idler sprocket on the end of a steel shaft that goes through the center of the reel. A length of bicycle chain connects the two sprockets and rides up over a pair of adjustable idlers. They used lengths of 1/ 4-in. dia. steel rod to make frames for the reel batts and mounted them to the reel shaft which is made from 1/2-in. dia. conduit pipe. Clear packaging tape is wrapped around the frames to serve as batts.
All operations are controlled from the back of the cart. An on-off switch and a throttle (borrowed from an old lawn mower) mount on the handlebars and are connected by lengths of bicycle cable to the engine.
"We can raise or lower the cart - and cutterbar height - by loosening a pair of bolts on each side of a steel frame that supports the bottom of the cart. We can set it any-where from 6 in. to 3 ft. off the ground.
However, we usually cut at about 24 to 30 in. off the ground. We can also adjust cutterbar height by raising or lowering the back end of the cart.
"The cutterbar and gearbox are built as one unit, and the engine fastens onto them with one screw so we can easily remove it for service."
They used lightweight electrical conduit pipe to make the cart's frame and handle-bars. The bottom and back end of the cart are built in one piece and are made from sheet metal. The sides are made from galvanized flashing and flare out at the front to keep the wheels from running over plants.
Wallace says he's willing to build the wildflower harvester for about $2,000, time permitting. His wildflower catalogs are available for $1.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mervin Wallace, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, 9814 Pleasant Hill Road, Jefferson City, Mo. 65109 (ph 573 496-3492).

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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #2