When farmers and ranchers price new equipment, they should be thinking about the future as well as the present.
Ricky Yarbrough, general manager of Springdale (Ark.) Tractor, told Ozarks Farm Neighbor it’s important to have enough horsepower for hay equipment. “They can’t get by with a 50 hp tractor,” he said. “They’re going to have to go to a bigger tractor to handle those implements. You’re going to need 70-80 hp to pull a round baler and a mower/conditioner. And also, they’ll need front end loaders if you’re going to move round bales; you need to stay in that 55-60 hp range if you’re going to have the capacity to do that.”
Yarbrough said smaller, 30-40 hp tractors are most often used by people with 10-20 acres who need to pull a brush hog or a box blade. “And if they don’t have a lot of land, we do a lot of business with people who have chicken houses, too; there are certain sized tractors they need to do certain things, like pulling decaker machines.”
When recommending the right equipment for a customer, Eric Schnelle, president of S&H Farm Supply in Lockwood, Mo., said they’ll need to find out the work that will be done with it. “Is he going to be brush hogging or baling?” he asked. “And we also need to know, what are you going to be doing in the future; do you want to change or upgrade? Especially on the tractors, you never want to be ‘under-horsepowered’; you always want to be ‘over-horsepowered,’ because there are always situations where the grass is damp and heavy, and it’s going to require more horsepower to brush hog or to mow. You’re going to have some hill applications that take more horsepower. And most operations grow over time; you’re going to need some bigger attachments.”
A salesman will also ask if the producer will be using a loader, so he can suggest front-wheel assist and the size of the loader; he’ll want to know if the producer uses mostly PTO applications, to ensure he has enough PTO horsepower. Schnelle advised OFN readers who are planning to shop for a tractor or baler, “to think about their application, what they’re going to be doing, and what they’re going to be doing in the future. If they’re going to be upgrading equipment, they need to make sure the tractor’s going to match the future upgrade.”
If the buyer is seeking a tractor, it’s also important to find out whether it will be the primary tractor on the farm, or a second tractor that’s intended for lighter utility work. If the latter, the producer may want to consider a more powerful unit that can fill in if the primary tractor breaks down.


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