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Across the Editor's Desk: April 2009

Agriculture.com Staff 04/27/2009 @ 2:00pm

Amid the serious business decisions last month of finalizing crop inputs and choosing among farm program options, some of you found a fun and unique diversion. You followed the auction of a 1982 John Deere 4440 tractor with only 47 hours on the hour meter (See more).

Greg "Machinery Pete" Peterson was on hand to witness the sale, held by Sullivan Auctioneers at Hamilton, Illinois, on March 6.

"How often do you get to see a used tractor -- a 27-year-old tractor to boot -- in pristine shape sell at auction!" Peterson said.

Successful Farming magazine machinery editors Dave Mowitz and Michelle Thilges, along with a production crew from the magazine's TV program, The Machinery Show, joined Peterson at the auction.

Leading up to the auction, readers of Agriculture Online were invited in an Ag Poll to guess the high bid. More than 1,400 of you responded. Here's how the guesses came in:

  • $40,000 - $50,000: 22%
  • $50,000 - $55,000: 19%
  • $55,000 - $60,000: 18%
  • $60,000 - $65,000: 13%
  • $65,000 - $70,000: 8%
  • Over $70,000: 20%

The tale of how a nearly brand-new JD 4440 could still be around is as interesting as the auction itself.

The story goes back to the early 1980s when oil was discovered on the land of farmer Wayne Crooks. Among the value received by Crooks for the oil rights were 800 acres of land in a nearby county and a new line of equipment. He then rented out the land and never used the equipment very much.

"The machinery didn't mean that much to him," auctioneer Jim Sullivan told Peterson. Crooks died at age 83 last October. The auction was held to help settle the estate.

More than 3,000 people attended the sale, and another 150 registered as bidders on the online auction site, Proxibid.com. The final bid was $48,000. The tractor is now part of the collection of Jon Kinzenbaw, founder of Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, Iowa.

Perhaps more surprising than the bid for the John Deere 4440 with 47 hours were the bids for two nearly identical 4440s with higher hours. One, with 692 hours, sold for $51,000. The other, with 1,843 hours, brought $43,000. A 1982 John Deere 7720 combine with 478 hours brought $50,000.

According to Peterson's extensive database of auction prices, the previous high paid for any 4440 in recent years was $41,400 for a 1982 model in 2004.

We will probably never see another auction like that one. But if you have a brand-new 27-year-old tractor to sell, I'd like to know!

A number of readers, including two engineers, called to say that Successful Farming magazine dropped the ball by showing a farmer operating a hydraulic press without wearing safety glasses on the Mid-March issue cover. Indeed, that's exactly what you see.

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