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Flail Mowers - Berta, BCS, Bellon, and Green Technik Brands
Flail mowers feature a horizontally-mounted rotor with numerous hinged (flailing) blades that pulverize a variety of materials in a single pass: Cover Crops, Weeds, Grass, and Brush up to 1” diameter. These heavy-duty mowers are the most forgiving mower type in rocky conditions due to the fact that the blades can easily “fold back” when hitting a hard object. The blades “flail” out by centrifugal force (at a drum speed of about 3000 rpm) to pulverize material. Flail mowers are excellent for reducing mowed material to a very small size for quick incorporation/breakdown into the soil. They are very popular for cover crops for this reason. A six-foot tall cover crop can be reduced to 2” – 4” pieces in a single pass and left evenly distributed across the width of the mower. We source flail mowers from the Italian manufacturers Berta, BCS, Green Technik, and Bellon to offer our customers a full range of sizes / options. Read on to see which one is best for your application…
Because of the time and horsepower required to “grind up” the material that is being mowed, the taller and denser the material is, the slower this type of mower typically has to travel (unlike a Cutter [sickle] Bar Mower, which only cuts material off at the bottom and therefore doesn’t care how tall it is…or a Brush Mower, which will give a decent cut at higher speeds but just not grind the material up much).
HOWEVER, with the introduction of the BERTA brand (the same company that builds our Rotary Plow) flail mowers in 2010, this has changed…Berta is the First and ONLY manufacturer to offer flail mowers with an adjustable-size discharge port on their flail mower. The adjustment is achieved via a removable “baffle”: If installed, the discharge port is SMALLER (so the material stays inside the mower longer and gets chopped up more); If the baffle is removed, the discharge port is LARGER, and the mower discharges the cut material in larger pieces, therefore requiring less power, and the mower can be run at higher ground speeds. This allows the Berta flail mowers to double as an effective and fast Brush & General-Purpose Mower, as well as being a great cover-crop / vegetable residue mower.
BCS "Blade Runner" flail mower
The BCS brand (“Blade Runner”) flail mowers have caster wheels standard equipment; they adjust via a screw-crank. On the BCS BladeRunner mowers, the wheels can also be lifted and locked in a “straight up” position, if desired, to get them out of the way (like the Berta caster wheels in the picture above), and then the BCS BladeRunner mowers rest on “skids” (which are NOT adjustable in height). The BCS BladeRunner mowers also have an option available of a full-width “anti-scalp” steel roller for height regulation (like what the Berta mowers come with standard)…this is NOT adjustable in height; cutting height is about 2” with this installed. Also, the BCS, Bellon and Green Technik brand flail mowers DO NOT have a removable discharge baffle like the Berta mowers, so they chop up the material to the same size all the time. NOTE: BCS claims that their “High-Dome” chamber design on their “BladeRunner” models eliminates the need for a removable discharge baffle…but in reality, the end result is that the BCS flail mowers (like tractor-mounted flail mowers) do NOT have a way to control the amount the material gets chopped up. The “High-Dome” design simply means that the material is not held as closely to the blades, so it will never get chopped up as fine as what a Berta can do with the discharge baffle installed.
The Berta and Bellon brand flails have an oscillating PTO mount, utilizing the tractor’s quick coupling system. This allows the mowers to “float” on uneven terrain, for an even cut. NOTE: The BCS and Green Technik brand flails do NOT have this “floating” feature.
In late 2016, BCS introduced a new flail mower option: The “RollerBlade”, which is available in a 30” width only. Interestingly, it is modeled almost precisely after the Berta brand flails, except it does NOT have a “floating” feature to aid the quality of cut on uneven ground, and it does NOT have a removable discharge-baffle to adjust material-discharge size (so this model always grinds the cut material “fine”, like a Berta flail mower with the “baffle” installed). However, we offer this model as well, if someone should want it.
One potential advantage that the BCS-brand flail mowers offer is faster cutting height adjustment…they use a screw-crank adjustment on both BladeRunner and RollerBlade flails to facilitate this. In “reality”, most people using flail mowers will adjust the mower to one cutting height and leave it there forever… but if your applications do require adjusting the cutting height often, the BCS brand flails are faster to adjust in this instance. (However, keep in mind that the quickly-adjustable cutting height on the BCS-brand flails also results in a design for the cutting height adjustment that has more moving parts, and is more prone to wear and potential failure.) NOTE: When the Berta brand flail mowers are equipped with Caster Wheel option, the cutting height adjustment becomes easy & “instant”, requiring no tools.
The front intake port of all flail mowers is equipped with a louver (bulkhead) system, which allows tall material to enter the mower, yet provides protection from objects being thrown out the front of the mower. (With the direction a flail mower rotates, any object struck by the blades [a piece of gravel, for example] would be thrown FORWARD, away from the operator…this makes flail mowers safer in general than brush mowers, which can potentially throw foreign objects in ANY direction!)
The BCS brand flail mowers use either a set of hinged steel front flaps on a non-adjustable-height louver (RollerBlade model), or a spring-loaded steel “door” that lifts up as one unit as tall material enters (BladeRunner models). Bellon and Green Technik use a non-adjustable louver with steel flaps. Berta offers what we feel is the best system with an adjustable-height front louver with high-impact thick rubber hinged flaps. The Rubberized material of the Berta flaps helps absorb & deaden impacts to keep the “ricochet” potential lower, as well as being very durable. NOTE: Some flail mowers on the market have a manually-adjustable-height steel “bulkhead” with NO swinging flaps beneath it. These are much more dangerous, because when the bulkhead is adjusted up high enough to allow tall material to enter the mower, there is NO protection against throwing objects out the front of the mower. Beware!
|Berta Flails||BCS “Rollerblade” Flails||BCS “Blade Runner” Flails|
|Material Discharge Size||Adjustable by removable baffle: With baffle IN, makes material “small” (for cover crops & vegetable residue) OR, with baffle OUT, (larger discharged material) for brush mowing||Fixed, always shreds material “small” (good for cover crops, but not great for brush mowing)||Fixed, always shreds material to a “medium” size (not as versatile)|
|Width options||26”, 30”, 34”||30”||24”, 30”, 35”|
|Cutting Height adjustment||6 positions within 2.5” range via adjustable full-width steel roller: causes no compression on beds, stays on top of raised beds. Adjusts by 2 bolts. (Instantly-adjustable Caster Wheels optional if desired)||Variable within 2” range via adjustable full-width steel roller: causes no compression on beds, stays on top of raised beds. Adjusts by fast screw-crank.||Variable within 3.5” range via instantly-adjustable caster wheels (OK for field mowing, not good for raised beds)|
|“Floating” mower deck||Yes, mower “swivels” in PTO coupling to allow mower to follow ground contours separate from tractor wheels (smoother cut, better tractor handling)||None, deck is rigid to tractor||None, deck is rigid to tractor|
|Blade type||Heavy-duty Y blades standard, scarification or lawn mowing blades optional||Heavy-duty Y blades standard, lawn mowing blades optional||Light-duty Y blades standard, lawn mowing blades optional|
|Caster Wheels||Optional. Adjustable, large solid rubber 8” diameter x 2.25” wide wheels (only potentially desirable for field mowing…not good on raised beds)||Not available||Standard, adjustable (Optional Non-adjustable Full-width roller available, for working on raised beds)|
|Front “Louver / bulkhead” (safety guard)||Adjustable in height to accommodate different height materials, with individual hinged “flaps” for protection||With individual hinged “flaps” for protection, NOT adjustable in height||Spring-loaded 1-piece raising/lowering, no individual flaps|
|Gearbox Casing||Steel, gearbox designed specifically for this mower for optimal strength & durability||Aluminum, uses components from other implements (and inherits some weaknesses as a result)||Aluminum, uses components from other implements (and inherits some weaknesses as a result)|
|Adjustable PTO angle||YES, input shaft angle adjusts in 3 height positions to accommodate tractors with different wheel heights||Not adjustable||Not adjustable|
All our flail mowers have an oil bath input-shaft gearbox with grease fittings on rotor bearings (except for Green Technik, which uses sealed bearings). The mowers that are equipped with full-width steel rollers for cutting height regulation (Berta, Bellon, Green Technik, BCS “RollerBlade”) have sealed ball bearings supporting the rollers. It is worth noting that Berta goes the “extra mile” by using STAINLESS STEEL sealed ball bearings on their rollers, while BCS uses standard sealed ball bearings.
All the flail mowers use two V-belts to transfer power to the blade rotor. Belts are easily adjustable and replaceable. Again, Berta goes the “extra mile” by providing their mowers with arguably the best v-belts on the market: Optibelt Super XE-POWER PRO belts, which, according to the manufacturer, “never stretch”. (We don’t know if this is 100% true, but we DO know that the belts on the Berta flails last so long that many customers forget that the mowers even HAVE belts!)
Main mower frames & decks are made of steel ranging from 1/8” to ¼” thick. Berta, as usual, does better than anyone else and pays the extra cost to buy HLSA (high-strength low-alloy) steel…the type of stuff that Overhead Lifting Cranes are made of. (In fact, Berta uses this type of steel on their other products as well [Rotary plows, 2-stage snowblowers]…the owner of Berta told me “The cost of the steel itself is a minor expense compared to everything else in the machines. Why not use higher-quality steel, and then you don’t have to worry about failures down the road?” I wish all of our manufacturers had this philosophy…
Berta is also the only Flail Mower manufacturer we deal with that builds their own gearbox specifically for their flail mower. (BCS uses gearbox components from their 38” lawn mower [which also appear on other BCS implements], and most other flail mower manufacturers use multi-purpose gearboxes.) The result is that Berta has a much stronger gearbox / frame assembly, because the gearbox is integral to the machine. Because Berta did not have to design their frame “around” a pre-existing gearbox, it enabled them to have enough space available on their frame to have the “open” design needed to offer their unique “Removable Baffle” design (as mentioned above) to control the size of discharged material. Plus, their “integral”” gearbox design ALSO allowed Berta to have the only flail mower with an adjustable angle for the PTO input shaft to accommodate walking tractors with different wheel heights. Also worth noting is that Berta’s gearbox housing is STEEL (as is the Bellon gearbox housing)…BCS and Green Technik have gearboxes with Aluminum outer cases. We have never had a gearbox failure on a Berta (or Bellon) flail mower, with over 2000 Berta flail mowers sold since 2009. (We cannot say that about the other brands…and we have only sold a fraction of the quantity of them!)
Bellon 20" Flail Mower
While the Berta brand flail mowers definitely offer the best features, quality & value, Berta unfortunately does not offer anything smaller than a 26” width. So, for narrower flail mowers (for small tractors and/or narrow spaces), we tapped into the Bellon line, which is a good quality machine, but just not with as many features as Berta.
All our Flail mowers come standard with Y-blades, which will cut anything from grass and weeds to ¾” hardwood or 1” softwood saplings. Berta flail mowers can also be equipped with straight “scarification” blades, which will do light slitting of the ground for overseeding. Another blade option is “lawn/finishing” blades (available for Berta and BCS brand flail mowers), which will do a smoother, nicer-looking job on a lawn. (NOTE: The Y-blades on the BCS BladeRunner flails are not as heavy-duty as the ones on the Berta or Green Technik mowers, so they will not cut material quite as large [½” hardwood / ¾” softwood saplings], and they are not as durable.)
NEW FOR 2023: Berta now offers “Anti-Scalp Skids” for their flail mowers, to help prevent scalping when mowing on lumpy / uneven terrain…see prices below.
Anti-Scalp “Skids” for
Berta flail mowers
Green Technik flail mower -
A good "economy" option
NOTE: Some farmers are starting to grow a cover-crop called SUN-HEMP. NO flail mower can cut this stuff once it is mature!! If you plan on growing sun-hemp, it must be mowed while the plant is young (first flowers just visible) and the stalks are still very supple and not woody / fibrous.