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Buyers’ Market for Late-Model Draper Heads

I recall being astounded at the sea of conventional platforms waiting to sell at a Steffes Group auction in August 2013. So prevalent was the switch over to draper headers in those days that 2- and 3-year-old late-model conventional platforms were selling for 40% to 50% of their original cost.

The popularity of the draper header since then has created a buying opportunity today, as large numbers of 2- to 5-year-old used drapers are being traded in. Values for rigid drapers, in particular, are depressed, as these platforms are being shunned in lieu of flexing drapers. 

I checked in on John Deere’s dealer website and found just short of 800 model 2013 to 2016 platforms waiting in dealers’ lots. Note this article’s Pocket Price Guide. These listings are focused on 40-foot flexing draper platforms built in 2015. For starters, the Pocket Price Guide illustrates the impact that features have on asking prices. 

The big impact on draper platform values is their use. For that, you need to talk to the dealer you are working with. Ask how the machine was used (soybeans vs. wheat, for example) and get an estimate of how many acres it covered during its previous life.

Unlike conventional platforms, draper units incorporate more moving parts and hydraulic components. Although the draper apron is remarkably durable, the belts can wear with use, and replacing those belts can get expensive. This is why you need to take a close look at the condition of the belts and estimate their remaining life when pricing out a draper header.  


By David Davidson,

Farmers’ preference for the harvesting performance that is offered with flexing draper headers is also being reflected in the valuations of used platforms.

Below is a comparison of the present value of four types of 2015 model year grain headers of all makes and models. The three-year difference in depreciation reveals the growing popularity of draper headers vs. auger headers. The table illustrates that flexing drapers are holding their value 5% points better than the rigid auger headers.

2015 Combine Headers of all Widths

Header Type Average New Selling Price in 2015 Used Cash Value in 2018 Percentage Depreciation
Flex Draper $81,151 $50,980 37%
Rigid Draper $73,152 $45,586 38%
Flex Auger $40,117 $24,356 39%
Rigid Auger $40,980 $23,676 42%

When you look specifically at the widest headers (shown in the chart below), the same story plays out with average three-year depreciation of the flex draper at 37% vs. 41% depreciation of the rigid auger style. Obviously, the average new selling price goes up on these big platforms, as well. The price was as high as $88,973 for the average 40+-foot flexing draper back in 2015.

2015 Combine Headers 40' and Wider

Header Type Average New Selling Price in 2015 Used Cash Value in 2018 Percentage Depreciation
Flex Draper $88,973 $56,450 37%
Rigid Draper $82,144 $51,489 37
Rigid Auger $72,724 $46,622 41%

As you would expect, brand plays a part in depreciation. Take advantage of two free appraisals being offered by Iron Solution (see below) to find out how a particular make and model is valued today. You can also check out the availability of platforms in your area by going to

Is the increased performance offered by draper headers worth the expense? Only you can answer that. The online community has some interesting perspectives on this question at

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Be sure to cash in on your two free equipment appraisals by going to These free appraisals are based on actual dealer sales, auction purchases, and wholesale transactions on selected equipment built in the past 20 years. Used by banks, equipment manufacturers, and equipment dealers all over North America, the Iron Solutions equipment appraisal data is now available to you!

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