Selecting the right tractor the first time can save producers money in the long run

Tractors come in all sizes, but what’s the right tractor for your farming operation?

Because tractors are a big investment, potential buyers are cautioned to know exactly what they plan to do with tractor before heading to the dealership.

“You need to know what you are going to do with it and how many acres are you going to work with it,” Jason Scott of Gray Brothers Equipment in Fort Scott, Ark., said. “As soon as I meet someone, I ask what they are going to be doing; I don’t wait for them to tell me. We want to try and find the tractor that will suit the customer’s needs. Someone with a smaller farm isn’t going to need a 100-horse tractor. We make a series, for example, that ideal for those with 25 acres or less.”

Knowing the performance expectations of a tractor before actually buying one will also help producers save money in the long run.

“The biggest thing we run into is the amount of horsepower needed to run certain types of equipment,” Ruben Downing, a salesman with S&H Farm Supply in Lockwood, Mo., said. “You have engine horsepower, then you have the actual PTO horsepower, which are two different things. Generally the PTO power is about 10 percent less than the engine power. Some people might want to buy a little 30-horse tractor and run a 10-foot brush hog; well, that’s not going to work.”

Downing and Scott said producers should have a long-term production plan laid out to address not only current, but future tractor needs.

“We get a lot of people who have just bought land or inherited it from an uncle, grandfather or father, who have been away from farming and think they need a tractor,” Downing said. “We’ve had people buy something and was going to work out fine, at first. Two years down the road, they want to go a different direction with a tractor that might not be paid for and have to trade it in. They’ve lost some depreciation on that tractor, so it’s not worth what you paid for it, of course, and you have to trade it in for something else you want, and then you’re going to be out more money. It’s like buying a car and you don’t want to have to make a payment on something you can’t use.”

Scott added that customers should also consider the overall quality and durability of a tractor, as well as resell value when making a purchase.

“A person really does need to look at resale value because they might want to trade up or sell it one day.”

Potential buyers are also cautioned to know what tractor will work best for the implements they have or plan to buy.

“I’d recommend that they buy a tractor first before they start buying equipment,” Scott said.

“Sometimes you inherit equipment, but you want to make sure it’s going to work,” Downing said. “If you don’t have any equipment, look at a tractor first.”

Downing added many dealers offer “packages” that include things like a trailer, cutters, front-end loaders and other equipment, which can insure that all implements will operate properly with that specific tractor. Downing also said packages can actually be a better deal than buying each item individually.

Scott said tractor and implement dealers in the Ozarks are happy to help customers find the equipment that will fit their needs, and explain why along the way.

“If someone comes in and they need a 30-horse tractor, I’m not going to sell them a 60-horse,” Scott said. “I take a lot of pride in matching the customer with the right tractor to suit their needs. I’m not going to sell them something that will be under powered if they expand a little, but I’m not going to try and sell them something that’s twice the size they need.”


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