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Why there’s one green tractor in this shed of red

Tractor Treasures: The John Deere 730 represents Marshall Martin’s wife’s side of the family.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

May 11, 2023

1 Min Read
 John Deere 730 diesel tractor
PROUD COLORS: This John Deere 730 in Marshall and Berdine Martin’s shed is the only green-and-yellow tractor in a sea of red. It represents Berdine’s family, Marshall says. Her father had a John Deere 730. Tom J. Bechman

Marshall Martin’s dad liked International Farmall tractors. Martin likes them, too, and has several in his collection, including some from his dad and other family members. But nestled among those red tractors is a John Deere 730 diesel.

“My father-in-law had a John Deere 730,” explains Martin, West Lafayette, Ind. “So, I got it to honor him for my wife, Berdine. Otherwise, red is the dominant color in our barns.”

Martin adds that his father-in-law, Forrest Kipp, farmed with all John Deere equipment near Annawan, Ill.

The John Deere 730 is restored and in good condition. Martin acknowledges it’s not the easiest tractor to start, especially in cold weather.

The John Deere 730 and 720 models held the fuel economy record for the most-efficient diesel tractor in the Nebraska tractor tests for 27 years. According to, 24,495 John Deere 730 model tractors were built at the factory in Waterloo, Iowa, between 1958 and 1961. Just down the road in a secret facility, a separate team of engineers was developing the John Deere 4010 that would replace the 730 and change the tractor industry.

Of those nearly 24,500 tractors, over 17,000 were diesels, with the rest split between gas and propane models. Addressing the hard winter-start issue, over 3,700 diesel 730s came with a pony engine.

The 730 diesel was a five-bottom plow tractor that rated at 53.4 hp in tests and claimed 59 PTO hp over 57 hp on the belt.

Like the 720 Series before it, the 730 featured batteries tucked under the driver’s seat — not nearly as convenient as it sounds because it was a tight fit. The 730 diesel came with four 6-volt batteries under the seat.

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About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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