New Holland takes a bullish approach to low commodity prices by launching entirely new families of equipment.

Commodity prices may be down. And the farm economy may be in a slump. But despite these signs of a weakened market, New Holland says it won't cut back on its new product development. Instead, it is introducing entire families of new products designed to boost productivity and efficiency on the farm in 1999.

"Our investment is substantial," says Tom Burton, marketing manager of New Holland's hay and forage products, referring to all of New Holland's lines. "We are refreshing our entire lineup to carry forward a broader product offering and a positive image.

"Although corn and soybean prices are looking weak, hay-making customers and dairy farmers should be in a good position in 1999 to upgrade their machinery," Burton says. To meet demand, New Holland has updated more than half of its baling and hay tool lines.

Here's a look at the new equipment designed to brighten lots this spring.

Balers. Leading the lineup is the new 8 series Roll-Belt round balers, featuring redesigned drives and heavier duty components than the 4 series they replace for increased strength and reliability. Five models provide five bale sizes: models 638 (4x4 bale), 648 (4x5), 658 (4x6), 678 (5x5) and 688 (5x6).

The Bale-Slice system featured in the 8 series also is available as an option on New Holland's rectangular baler model 590 Big Baler to provide for increased bale density and faster mixing when part of a mixed ration for cattle. "Animals are able to access and consume higher levels of dry matter per day, which leads to faster weight gain," Burton says. Suggested list price of the 590 Big Baler with the new option: $66,000. Circle 199.Also new are two round bale wrappers for silage. The B27P, called "the farmer's model," handles a 4- x 5-ft. round bale and carries a lower sticker price than the high-capacity B37P model. The B37P, designed for high-volume growers, wraps a 5-x6-ft. bale and sets it on its side or on its end after being wrapped. Suggested list price: $12,000 to $18,000.

Hay tools. New Holland introduces a three-model family of self-propelled windrowers called the HW, featuring header durability, drive systems and cab comfort. The largest of the three, the HW340, combines the company's Speedrower windrower technology with its Discbine disc mower-conditioners to clear large-acreage, high-yield crops quickly. You can switch among three different heads: a disc-cutting head, sickle-cutting head and grain draper head. The drive system lets you throttle back the engine while maintaining the speed of the head to meet varying crop conditions and save fuel in low-demand crops, Burton says. Cutting width on the HW340 ranges from 14 to 18 ft. with a sickle or disc head.

The other two models in the HW series, HW300 and HW320, work with a sickle bar mower conditioner and cut in widths ranging from 12 ft. 3 in. to 18 ft. 3 in. Suggested list price for an HW series base unit with head: $54,000 to $80,000.

For hay growers wanting a disc mower conditioner that uses flail-type instead of roll-type conditioning, New Holland introduces models 1412 and 1432 to complement its existing roll-type models 1411 and 1431 Discbines. Choose between two cutting widths: 10-ft. 4-in. or 13 ft. Suggested list price: $18,000 to $25,000.

New Holland's model 900 pull-type forage harvester now features a crop processor called CropPro to improve digestibility and nutrient value of corn silage. Its 8-in.-dia. rolls spin at different speeds to both crack and crush corn kernels and shear and crush stems and cobs. The unit can be bypassed or removed when harvesting haylage.

Combines. The company replaces its TR 8 series Twin Rotor combines with the higher performance TR 9 series to speed all phases of harvesting.

The 240-hp TR89 features 40 hp more than the TR88, a 190-bu. grain tank and a wider cleaning shoe, resulting in a 38% increase in cleaning capacity. The larger, 280-hp TR99 has 10 hp more than the TR98 , with a 240-bu. grain tank. The additional horsepower results in faster ground speeds. Both models are powered by new, turbocharged and intercooled, 6-cyl. Genesis engines.

"With the higher horsepower, we improved the clean grain-handling system so we can get grain into and out of the grain tank faster," says Dan Harting of New Holland's combine marketing department. Unloading rates of both models are 2.2 bu./sec. - 25% faster than the previous models. A new, high-discharge bubble-up auger now reaches all the way to the top of the grain tank to minimize grain damage. An electronically controlled turret swing lowers the auger for transport.

The TR99 has a new electronically controlled concave that lets you raise and lower the threshing system without leaving the cab. Other features on both models include a new monitor location for better visibility of combine heads, an easier-opening, one-piece side shielding for faster servicing and a redesigned rear axle on the 4-wds for 18% more rear traction. Suggested list price: $130,000 to $170,000. Contact New Holland North America Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 1895, New Holland, PA 17557, 717/355-1371.