Sales and interest in utility tractors is strong as more owners of small farms or acreages look for the right sized equipment for their operation.
From tending to livestock, a vineyard or large gardens to post-hole digging or even snow plowing, it’s important to have the equipment you need. There are utility tractors of many sizes that may be the ideal choice for acreages of all sizes.
Retail sales up
Small tractors have been a bright spot recently with equipment manufacturers. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the May sales report says smaller, 40-horsepower (hp) machines have been strong.
U.S retail sales of farm tractors under 40 hp were up 9.4 percent in May 2016 compared to the same time last year and are up 15.5 percent from January through May.
For two-wheel-drive (2WD) tractors in the 40 to 100 hp range, sales were up slightly for May compared to last year — plus 1.4 percent — and year-to-date are tracking at minus 2.1 percent.
“The May retail sales numbers, taken together, are higher than the five-year average, mostly driven by the smaller, under 40 hp machines, which remain an area of growth compared to the negative numbers for production equipment,” said Charlie O’Brien, AEM senior vice president.
“However, farm tractors 40 to 100 hp continued their stable trend, and the 2WD tractors 100 plus hp experienced a lower decline than earlier this year,” he said.
Making a list
If you’re looking for a tractor or equipment for your small operation, first determine what you need and how much you want to spend.
In addition, make a list of how the tractor will be used. Will you be making hay or using the tractor for tillage and planting?
Consider whether you’ll be disking, planting crops such as forages, row crops or a large garden, or if you’ll need to bale hay. Will you need a loader or to pull a wagon?
Andrew Frankenfield, agricultural educator at Penn State University, wrote in an Extension publication that buying a used tractor may be practical for the small or part-time farmer.
He recommends owners know their needs, budget and what’s on the market by conducting research before making any purchases.
There are many websites available to search for tractors and equipment. This is a good way to compare prices of tractors with similar hours and conditions.
When looking at a used tractor, check the power takeoff (PTO) and hydraulics.
Hydraulics allow you to raise and lower implements by attaching hoses from the hydraulic cylinder mounted on the implement to the tractors.
Check if there is a standard three-point hitch which lets you hook up to a variety of attachments regardless of the manufacturer.
Check older tractors to see if they start easily on a cold engine and if they run well when hot. Run the tractor for a half-hour and begin to look for leaks in oil or antifreeze. Check the brakes, charging system and overall structure. Find out about prior service, performance and repair history.
Get a copy of the owner’s manual if you purchase the tractor.
New products offered
Manufacturers have been feeding the market with new offerings and updated models.
Last year, Kubota Tractor introduced the M6-series of four utility tractors that match their full line of hay tools. The M6-101, M6-111, M6-131 and the M6-141 range from 82 to 114 PTO.
Features include a 24-speed power shift transmission and spacious cabs. They are mainly designed for hay production, dairy and cattle operations.
Earlier this year, Massey Ferguson, a brand of AGCO Corporation, introduced the 5700SL series mid-range tractors.
“Livestock producers, especially, appreciate these tractors,” said Shaun Allred, tactical marketing manager, mid-range and high horsepower tractors.
The new series includes three models ranging from 110 to 130 engine horsepower. All are available in classic or deluxe editions with cabs.
The new SpeedSteer option lets the operator adjust the steering ratio for more or fewer turns of the steering wheel, making loader and headland turns faster and easier.
Rear-mounted PTO engagement is convenient to connect and operate the PTO, plus convenient, push-button access quickly stops it.