946 Mower-Conditioner

946 Mower-Conditioner


  • Modular-design cutterbar
  • Steel roll conditioners
  • Adjustable roll pressure
  • Hydraulic tongue positioning
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Windrow formation

Roll conditioner swathboard lever Roll conditioner swathboard lever
Impeller conditioner swathboard lever Impeller conditioner swathboard lever

An easy-to-adjust lever (arrow) is used to position the swathboard.


Swathboard controls the crop flow into the windrow-forming shields.


The windrow width is adjustable from 40 in. to 100 in., depending on crop conditions, when equipped with a roll conditioner or an impeller conditioner.

Modular-design cutterbar

Modular cutterbar Modular cutterbar

John Deere's patented design cutterbar is made from individual, diagonal-cut modules.

Serviceability is easy. Modules can be removed individually while leaving the cutterbar attached to the frame.


Made of high-strength nodular-iron castings, each module consists of two idler gears and one drive gear. The large-diameter idler gears transmit power from module to module. The idler gears turn at a relatively slow speed for added durability.

The smaller-diameter pinion drive gear is used only to power the cutting disk. Power is not transmitted from one cutting disk to another except through the large-diameter idler gears.


The modules are interchangeable. Disk rotation is determined by the position of the quill (A). There is a rubber oil seal between each cutting module.

Steel roll conditioners

Close-up of V-10 steel conditioning rolls Close-up of V-10 steel conditioning rolls

The V-10 steel conditioner rolls feature 10 angled flutes arranged in a chevron, or V-pattern along the length of the steel core. 


Steel rolls offer improved wear life over urethane rolls, particularly in adverse crop conditions.

Advantages of the V-10 conditioner roll over the previous straight flute design are as follows:

  • More crimping edges for improved conditioning
  • Improved feeding
  • Improved windrow formation
Tri-Lobe™ steel conditioning rolls
Tri-Lobe steel conditioning rolls Tri-Lobe steel conditioning rolls
Close-up of Tri-Lobe steel conditioning rolls Close-up of Tri-Lobe steel conditioning rolls

Tri-Lobe steel conditioning rolls have three intermeshing chevron lobes to crush the length of the stem for improved conditioning and faster drydown. The rolls are manufactured using a patented process.


The steel material increases wear life, especially in abrasive crops or soil conditions. Durability is a distinct advantage compared to other crusher-style rolls made of rubber or urethane. The chevron design of the rolls gives positive feeding and improved crop flow.


These rolls are well suited for use in alfalfa, where reduced curing time results in less bleaching of the crop. In heavy, thick-stemmed crops, such as sudan or sudex, the steel construction of the rolls does a very good job of breaking up the nodes on the stems to improve drydown.

Replaceable end shafts Replaceable end shafts

The shafts on the Tri-Lobe rolls are steel forgings that are then machined. These precision parts have minimal run-out, which means the rolls themselves rotate precisely around their axis. This precision enables the rolls to be adjusted to a minimum clearance for consistent conditioning along the length of the rolls.


The machined, forged roll ends are bolted into the core of the Tri-Lobe steel roll. In the event a roll end is damaged, the entire roll does not need to be replaced. Each shaft can be replaced individually, resulting in lower repair costs.


For serviceability, each roll end has two threaded holes, so that bolts can be used to pull the shafts from the steel core of the roll.

Urethane roll conditioner

Urethane rolls Urethane rolls

The 946 and 956 Mower-Conditioners are also available with large, 10-in. diameter, 106-in. long molded urethane conditioner rolls.


The urethane roll conditioner works well in legumes, especially alfalfa, and most all-grass crops. In general, roll conditioners are better suited for thick-stemmed, cane-type crops, and taller grasses over 5-ft tall.


Molded urethane rolls are formed by ''cool'' molding process that does not distort or warp the steel core of the roll. 

  • This process ensures the rolls are straight and cylindrical, so they can be accurately spaced close together for uniform conditioning along the length of the roll.

The intermittent recessed cleat design gives more crimping edges for greater pressure per square inch, which results in superior conditioning and faster crop drying.

Impeller conditioner

Impeller Impeller

An impeller conditioner is available for the 946 and 956 Mower-Conditioners. Proper conditioning in a wide range of crops can be achieved when the conditioner is properly adjusted.


The impeller conditioner works well in legumes, especially alfalfa and most all-grass crops. Impeller conditioners are not recommended for thick-stemmed or cane-type crops over 5-ft tall.

How an impeller conditioner works:

1. As hay is cut by rotating knives, tines pick up the plants and carry them through the machine:
  • 72 V-shaped tines
  • Free-swinging tines are used to reduce damage if rocks or other solid objects are struck
2. As plant passes through, it rubs against the conditioning hood (A) and other plants.
  • Scrubbing action removes the waxy surface from the stem of the plant
  • Allows faster evaporation of moisture
  • Conditioner hood opening is adjustable to accommodate various crop volumes
Impeller hood adjustment Impeller hood adjustment
  • A simple lever adjustment (arrow) controls the spacing between the tines and the conditioning hood.
  • The closer the hood is to the tines, the more aggressive the conditioning is.
  • Adjustment slots give an easy reference point to control the degree of conditioning.
Drive and driven sheaves Drive and driven sheaves

3. The speed at which the tines rotate will also affect the degree of conditioning. Two impeller speeds can be achieved by interchanging the drive sheave (A) and the driven sheave (B).

  • With sheaves in the position shown, the impeller turns at 871 rpm, which is ideal for most crop conditions
  • Interchanging the sheaves will slow the impeller speed to 620 rpm

Excellent maneuverability

Rockshaft swivel hitch
Rockshaft swivel hitch Rockshaft swivel hitch

The swivel hitch gives the 946 and 956 Mower-Conditioners excellent maneuverability.


NOTE: Requires a 1000-rpm PTO (1-3/8-in.) and a 2250-psi hydraulic system with dual selective control valve (SCV).


NOTE: The PTO can be converted to a 1-3/4-in. driveline by installing yoke (AE56235) and cross bearing assembly (AC15878). Order through Parts.


The rockshaft swivel hitch attaches to the lower arms of a Category 2 or 3N 3-point hitch and can be used with or without a Quik-Coupler. This hitch enables cutting square corners without the need to reposition the platform using tractor hydraulics, making it easier to cut around field obstacles.


The U-joint angles of the tractor hookup remain constant for reduced driveline noise and vibration.


The rockshaft swivel hitch is easy to hook up. The spring-loaded attaching arms are tilted upward when the hitch is set on the built-in parking pad. The arms can be positioned to permit easier alignment with the 3-point hitch arms.


NOTE: The rockshaft swivel cannot be converted to the drawbar swivel hitch configuration.

Drawbar swivel hitch
Drawbar swivel hitch Drawbar swivel hitch

The drawbar swivel hitch attaches to the tractor drawbar with a drawbar extension. This enables the mower-conditioner to be used with tractors without a rockshaft.


The turning radius is reduced approximately 10 degrees compared to the rockshaft swivel hitch. The U-joint angles of the tractor hookup remain constant for reduced driveline noise and vibration


The drawbar swivel hitch is designed to be towed by a tractor only (the static load on the drawbar is approximately 1700 lb) and includes a screw-type jack and safety chain.


NOTE: The drawbar swivel cannot be converted to the rockshaft swivel hitch configuration.

Rotary disk cutterbar

Rotary cutterbar Rotary cutterbar

The rotary cutterbar is designed and built by John Deere. Large oval disks with free-swinging knives are used to cut the crop.


All cutting disks are the same and are computer-designed for improved wear and cutting performance.


Cutting disks are made of high-strength austempered steel to ensure the steel is thoroughly and evenly tempered for good wear characteristics.


The disks rotate to give a knife-tip speed of 307 km/h (191 mph) for clean cutting.


The knives are free-swinging to reduce damage if a solid object is struck, and they are reversible to double the useful life.


The knives are removed at the front of the cutterbar for convenience.

Wear caps
Wear caps Wear caps

Made of austempered heat-treated ductile steel for excellent wear characteristics, wear caps are installed on each end of the cutting disks (except on the end disks where crop accelerators are used) to increase the wear life of the cutting disks and knife-bolt nuts.


Wear caps are open on the end to prevent debris from packing in close to the nut, making hardware and knives easier to change.