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Like-New Deere S Series at Used Prices

By Dave Mowitz

What do you call a combine with fewer than 300 hours on its tachometer? If my father, Eldred, were still alive, I’m fairly certain he would answer, “Barely broken in.”

I am also certain Dad would look over the one-year, low-hour John Deere S Class combines that are listed in the Pocket Price Guidebelow and consider all of them like-new combines. The average separator hours on these combines is just 231 hours.

What is equally impressive is that the combines selected for the guide are the cream-of-the-crop vanguard of a fleet of 2014 model year harvesters listed in John Deere’s dealer equipment website MachineFinder.com. Adding in all model years, there were 495 model S660s, 1,273 model S670s, 1,056 model S680s, and 260 model S690s on dealers’ lots. That’s a total of 3,084 used S Series machines.

For comparison, consider that 3,995 new combines of all makes and models sold in 2014!

There certainly have been times when dealers’ lots were filled with used combines.

Remember the lease-and-roll days of the mid-1990s? How about the dire times of the early to mid-1980s? Yet, the current bounty of used harvesters is unprecedented because of such a profusion of late-model, low-hour combines.

The impact of used certification plans
In addition, a great many of the like-new harvesters on dealers’ lots are being sold after having been inspected and certified for extended warranty coverage. For example, all Pocket Price Guide listings are being sold as “John Deere Certified Pre-Owned.” That means they have been field-tested, inspected, and certified on more than 200 examination points by a dealer. This certificate also provides an extra year of Deere’s Comprehensive PowerGard Protection Plan that covers all main components. “In effect, this gives farmers the coverage benefits of new, with the extra value of preowned,” says Miles Keaton of John Deere.

Like-new combines are being sold with brand-new warranty coverages. What a buyer’s market, indeed!

What about John Deere S550, S650 prices?
The focus of this issue is placed on S660 and larger combines. The S550s (whose production stopped in 2013) and the S650s (currently in production) were left out of the guide, because availability of these models is limited, since fewer of this size were made in the first place.

Derek Wieman of Wieman Auction gets a good feel for what’s moving at his family’s huge preharvest consignments. “Farmers buying this class of combine traditionally hold on to their machines much longer than those using larger models, so finding late-model small combines is rare,” he says. “This definitely puts price pressure on values when they do become available.”

That’s the case regarding late-model green machines whose average dealer asking prices (based on listings in MachineFinder.com) are as follows:
• $238,499 for 2013 model S550 combines
• $257,000 for 2014 model S650 combines

Talk about your ultra-low-hour machines!
When doing a search on MachineFinder.com, a used Deere S690 showed it had just one hour on its tach. Could this be correct? The dealer in Virginia confirmed the fact, adding that the combine had been delivered new but had never been sold. As it was 1 year old and had one hour under its belt, technically it was used.

That S690 wasn’t alone. A 2013 model S550 in Illinois had only four separator hours and was described as “never been in the field.” In Iowa, an S550 had only 18 separator hours. Both of these machines, like the S690 in Virginia, were exceptions.

It is surprising that dozens of harvesters of all sizes carry little more than 100 separator hours. It certainly is a sign of the times (depressed commodity prices after years of unprecedented income) that the used market is harboring a treasure trove of ultra-low-hour combines.

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