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Price pressure on disks

It was a warmish, mid-winter day last February. I was up in northwest Iowa covering a very nice farm retirement auction. What drew me to this auction was one tractor in particular, a 2005 John Deere 7820 front-wheel-drive tractor with only 560 hours. I suspected ahead of time that it would sell for a record high price.

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It did. $105,500 was the final bid!

But curiously, that tractor wasn't the one piece of equipment I came away from the auction talking about. It was a John Deere Model 230 disk.

That piece of equipment was a very nice disk, 25½ feet, with good, black cone blades. It sold for $7,100. I remember standing there as the bidding crept over $6,000.

On my cell phone, I looked up the sale price data I'd compiled on Deere 230 disks over the years. Turns out, $7,100 was the highest auction sale price I'd ever seen in the U.S. Interesting, but not so surprising. It's just another example of what I've been seeing now since 2007. The value of good, older used disks is way up. And I see this trend across all color lines.

Specific examples

An Allis-Chalmers 2300 12½-foot disk that sold for $2,300 on an auction in northeast Indiana in February is a good example. The previous record-high auction sale price on that Allis disk was $1,300 in 2001.

An 18-foot IHC 470 disk sold for $4,100 on a January 2011 auction in east-central Missouri. That's the second highest sale price I've seen in the last 12 years.

An 18-foot IHC 475 disk sold last November on a sale in northwest Ohio for $5,750. That's the second highest auction price I've seen on a 475 disk. The record-high price of $6,000 on a 475 disk was in January 2009 on a sale in south-central Ohio.

A 26-foot White 273 disk sold for $8,250 on a February 2011 auction in northeast Indiana. That was another example of a record-high auction price on an older disk.

IHC 490 disks illustrate the rising value trend over the last four years. On my website, I've compiled 410 auction sale prices on IHC 490's over the past 15 years. That's a lot of disks. From the 10-year period of 1996 to 2006, the highest auction sale price I saw on a 21-foot IHC 490 disk was $7,750. That occurred on an August 26, 2004, auction in southeast Iowa.

Since January 2007, I've seen four 490s sell at auction for $8,000 or more, including a 24-foot IHC 490 disk that sold for $9,000 on a November 21, 2009, auction in northwest Ohio.

It's interesting to note that from 1999 to 2006, I only saw five Case IH 496 disks sell for $10,000 or more. Four of those sold between $10,000 and $10,500.

Since December 2007, however, I have seen 22 Case IH 496 disks sell for $10,000 or more at auction, going as high as $17,500.

What About Sunflower Disks?

If it is good, used, and a disk, it's guaranteed to bring high prices in auction bidding. Take Sunflower disks, for example.

A 32-foot Model 1232 in good condition bought $15,500 in Wisconsin, while a 24-foot 1233 sold for $24,000 in Michigan.

A 30-foot Model 1434 in excellent shape bought $36,500, while a 40-foot 1443 in good shape caught a final bid of $35,000. Both of those disks sold in Iowa.

Supply and demand

This increase in higher auction prices on older disks has come in spite of there being basically half as many machinery auctions now as there were from 1996 to 2006.

The severe drop in the number of auctions is one of the reasons for rising used values on older disks. Fewer sales mean less supply. Yet more folks are out there looking for nice, older disks, perhaps to avoid paying far greater dollars for newer disks. And this creates the perfect recipe for the rising used values we're seeing.

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