When John Deere first unveiled its flagship X9 1100 combine at Agritechnica 2019 it was billed as the first machine to break through the 100t per hour throughput barrier. Now four years on, we visited one of the UK’s longest-standing X9 users to see if the giant thresher’s reputation has lived up to all of the hype and speculation in typical on-farm conditions over multiple seasons.
The pair of X9 combines operated by Scott Melton, farm manager for Caley Farms in Norfolk, are now in their third harvest due to the farm having initially run a pre-production machine in 2020. So it would be fair to say that Scott has as much experience as anyone in the country of using X9 combines in anger. These two flagship monsters are the farm’s latest in a long line of John Deere combines.
“I was brought up around John Deere machinery,” explains Scott. “Later, when I first started here we had a 9880 STS combine, and then progressed through various S-Series models, eventually settling on four 2012 S690i machines. They have been decent combines for us, running at 50 to 60t/hr in good conditions, and they did the job we asked of them very well. Although still a good combine in its own right, the S-Series’ throughput is limited by the single rotor. More recently we were looking for more capacity from a larger combine, and we tried a couple of competitor’s machines which although good were not right for us. But this did convince us that twin rotors were the future.
“I had known that the X9 was on the way for some time,” explains Scott. “I had first seen an early prototype in 2017, thanks to being involved with the John Deere forum discussion group, and despite being far from the finished article it was extremely impressive working well in terribly wet conditions.