If you've determined your budget will allow you to upgrade part of your machinery line this year, where should you spend it? That would also include investments in grain facilities and buildings, such as shops. Here's where farmers are telling us they are and aren't looking to spend money right now. How does this compare with your shopping list for spring?
Tractors. One farmer who relied on a leased tractor a year ago decided it would be better to invest in a tractor that he owned this year to pull his largest tillage tool. However, he opted for a 250-horsepwoer, low hours used tractor, wanting to save the depreciation that falls off quickly from a new tractor.
Vertical tillage tools. Reports in to us are a mixed bag so far. One farmer loves the concept, using a Case Turbo-Till to run an inch to two inches deep and level the seedbed. He used a smaller unit this fall until the company could make the unit he ordered. It's more than 40 feet wide. These units are made to be pulled shallow and fast.
Yet another farmer who tried one out from a dealer, the very same tool, was disappointed for two reasons. One was that he didn't believe it left his field level. It did leave lots of residue on top as he wanted, but driving across it, he thought it felt rougher than he expected. His second point was that these new units are very expensive. He still wants to be convinced it's more than a glorified disk before he invests around $40,000 in an average-sized model.
Grain bins. Plan to wait if you go visit a grain bin dealer. Many say they're busier than they have been in years. The hottest seller is some type of bin to allow farmers to store wet corn out of the field. This past fall reminded them that if you can't get grain away from the combine, you can't harvest very quickly.
Grain dryers. One farmer says his luck finally ran out. He babied a 30-year old dryer in his large operation for the past several seasons. But when he finally hit a season where he needed to work it hard, it wasn't always up tot eh task. Down time slowed down harvest. He's already purchased a new dryer for next fall. Since he ordered early, before the start of 2010, he's confident he will receive it in time.
Seed carts. The bulk soybean craze is even passing up beans in bags. More farmers this spring are talking about having beans delivered to the farm straight from the plant in bulk, or going after them in bulk, or using plastic boxes that hold more than the large bags, and are safer and easier to handle. With all this interest in moving seed to the field, there's interest again in various types of seed carts. Those with conveyors that are gentler on the seed appear to be getting good marks.