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A Universal Cutter is a type of Forage Header in Farming Simulator 17. When installed on a Forage Harvester, it can serve two different functions: It can be used to cut down Wheat, Barley, Canola and Soybean fields to produce Chaff; and it can mow Grass and collect it.

The first function of a Universal Cutter is to cut crops and collect Chaff. Collecting Chaff from the types of crops listed above is not as effective as collecting it from Corn (see Corn Chaff Headers), but it does give you a way to create Chaff without buying Corn-related equipment. Chaff cannot be sold as-is. Instead, it must be dumped into a Silage Bunker, compressed by a large vehicle, and then fermented for several hours - at which point it becomes Silage. Silage itself is highly profitable when sold, and is also important for feeding Cows.

The second function of a Universal Cutter is to mow Grass, which the Forage Harvester will immediately collect into whatever container it can find nearby. This works the same as using a Mower and Loading Wagon, except Universal Cutters are wider than any Mower available in the base game, and can therefore do the same job much more quickly.

The most important difference between models of Universal Cutters is Width and Price - the wider the better, but more expensive. Universal Cutters are narrower compared to Corn Chaff Headers, but they have a higher Maximum Work Speed to compensate somewhat.

The base game offers 4 different models of Universal Cutters, which aren't all that different from one another.

List of Universal Cutters Edit

Below is a list of the four Universal Cutter Models found in the "Forage Harvester Headers" category at the store.

Name Price Maint. cost
per day
Working
Width (m)
Max Work Speed
(km/h)
Power
Consumption (hp)
FS17 Rostselmash-500D
Rostselmash 500D
21,000 20 5.0 15 122
FS17 Capello-Spartan610
Capello Spartan 610
25,000 20 6.1 15 135
FS17 NewHolland-600FDR
New Holland 600FDR
26,000 20 5.9 15 135
FS17 Krone-XDisc620
Krone XDisc 620
28,000 20 6.2 15 135

Chaffing Crops Edit

The first function of a Universal Cutter is to turn Wheat, Barley, Canola or Soybeans into Chaff. These crops are available for growing as soon as the game begins, without the need to purchase specialty equipment for growing Corn. However, the Chaff yield from these crops is significantly lower than the yield from Corn.

Like with most Forage Headers, choosing which Universal Cutter to buy is mostly a matter of deciding how much money you want to spend. Essentially, you want the widest Universal Cutter you can afford. Note that in the base game, there is one Universal Cutter that is more expensive and narrower than other models. Buying this header is unfortunately wasteful. To learn more, read the articles on individual Universal Cutter models from the list above.

You can use any type of container (a Tipper or Loading Wagon) to hold the Chaff you produce from the field. The larger the container you choose, the fewer times you will need to replace it as the work proceeds. The Chaff yield from Canola and Soybeans is very small, and should not require a very large container unless the field itself is also very large. When working with Wheat or Barley, however, you should grab a fairly large container.

Universal Chaffing can take place on any Wheat, Barley, Canola or Soybean field that has reached or passed the 4th stage of growth. There is no need to wait until the crop is ripe - you do not get any benefit from waiting. If a field is already "withered", you cannot harvest it at all. Plowing and Fertilization does increase the Chaff yield, like it does for normal harvests. If you do both, you get twice as much Chaff than if you don't.

Yield Edit

For the four crop types that a Universal Cutter can process, the Chaff yield from a single hectare of crop is as follows:

Crop Type Yield
Not plowed nor fertilized Plowed and fully-fertilized
FS17 Icon Wheat Black Small Wheat 35,600 71,200
FS17 Icon Barley Black Small Barley 38,400 76,800
FS17 Icon Canola Black Small Canola 17,400 34,800
FS17 Icon Soybean Black Small Soybeans 13,500 27,000

Wheat and Barley are clearly the superior options for creating Chaff with a Universal Cutter, since they produce the largest amount of Chaff. Cutting Canola or Soybean not only produces more Chaff, but is more wasteful - because these crops are generally worth more than Wheat or Barley when cut with a normal Harvester, but worth so much less when cut with a Forage Harvester.

Of course, none of these yields even comes close to the Chaff yield from a Corn field - which is more than double that of Wheat (at approximately 143,000 per plowed and fully-fertilized hectare). If you've got the equipment for growing Corn, and can afford a Corn Chaff Header, you can basically forget about using Universal Cutters for Chaff altogether, unless it's an emergency.

Chaff itself is worthless - it cannot be sold. However, once it's processed into Silage, it sells for an average price of around $400 per Liter. While this is considerably lower than the average price of Wheat, Barley, Canola or Soybeans, you will get a much greater quantity of Chaff from a hectare of any of these crops than you would the actual harvested fruits. There is a lot of extra work involved in processing Chaff into Silage and then selling the Silage, but the profit is considerably higher, even with the low yields from Soybeans and Canola.

Mowing Grass Edit

The second function of a Universal Cutter is to cut fresh Grass and collect it in loose form. In this manner, a Universal Cutter is like a combination between a Mower and a Loading Wagon - cutting and collecting at the same time. The only other tool available that can do this is a Tractor with a single-head Mower at the front (e.g. a Pöttinger Novacat 301 ED) and an active Loading Wagon at the back that constantly picks up everything the mower drops.

There are several important differences between using a Universal Cutter and using a Mower/Wagon combination. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to you to decide which method works best for you at any given time.

  • Header Size: A Mower/Wagon combination requires the use of a single-head mower at the front, creating a single trail of Grass to be picked up by the Wagon - and Single-head mowers are about half as wide (on average) as any Universal Cutter. Thanks to the extra width, a Universal Cutter processes a lot more Grass at once.
  • Speed: Universal Cutters impose a speed limit of 15 km/h / 9 mph speed limit while working, whereas Mowers impose a limit of 20 km/h / 13 mph. This allows Mowers to work 25% faster - however this does not make up for the width disparity (see prev. point).
  • Perfect Collection: Unless you make a mistake while working, a Universal Cutter will collect 100% of the grass it cuts into the container. A Mower/Wagon combo, on the other hand, has a harder time collecting everything it cuts, unless you spend extra time making sure the wagon's pickup head has passed over every bit of dropped grass.
  • Plowing Issue: As far as the game's code is concerned, a Universal Cutter is a type of Harvesting Header, not a type of Mower. As a result, the code treats them slightly differently when calculating how much Grass is collected. The most important effect is that Mowers ignore the Plowing state of the field, always assuming that the field is plowed - whereas Universal Cutters do care whether the field has recently been plowed. Plowing a Grass field requires you to replant the Grass all over again. If you choose not to plow the field every few harvests, it will eventually yield a little 5-10% less Grass when using a Universal Cutter compared to a Mower.
  • Tippers and Loading Wagons: Whereas a Universal Cutter works perfectly with any type of container, a Mower/Wagon combo works only with a Loading Wagon, since it must actively pick up grass once it's been dropped by the mower. A Tipper cannot perform this function. Because Tippers are generally bigger than Loading Wagons, a Universal Cutter can work with the largest Tippers and thus collect much more Grass before needing to be unloaded.

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