Combines find their price floor
Prices both at dealers’ and auction lots were as strong over the summer as they been for more than six years. That is a direct reflection of supply and demand. It appears that a great many buyers who have put off upgrading combines since 2014 (when commodity prices slumped) are now looking for replacements. Dealer stocks of harvesters, particularly late-model combines, are not overly abundant compared to recent years which has poured a solid floor under equipment prices. But what is also pushing up prices is the emergence of online-only auctions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“No doubt that we have more buyers online today than we did when we sold everything at live sales (which were also hosted online)," explains Dan Sullivan of Sullivan Auctioneers. “And we’ve noticed far more people showing up prior to our auctions to look over equipment, as well. But I think the ease of buying equipment online from an office or tractor cab (via a smart phone) is pushing bidder participation.”
Late in June Sullivan’s organization (sullivanauctioneer.com) held a $20 million dealer dispersal auction which featured no less than 72 late-model combines. Testifying to stronger buyer interest three 2018 John Deere S780 (similar to those featured in the Pocket Price Guide on the next page) sold equipped with rear-wheel-drives and ProDrive transmissions. They had separator hours ranging from 309 to 1,102 hours. Their final bids ranged between $275,000 (for the combine with the highest hours) to $350,000.
Scott Steffes has noticed stronger bids at his organization's (steffesgroup.com) sales. “Certainly, bidding online is more convenient. But we’ve been selling online for decades,” Steffes notes. “I attribute stronger combine sales to replacement demand.”
And while the greatest demand for combines has been for late-model (those that are 6- to 7-years-old or less) even older harvesters are seeing stronger prices.
20 years of combines
In that regard, here is a snapshot view of average dealer asking prices (for Models S780, S680 and 9770STS combines) and auction sale prices (for models 9650STS and 9510). The mixture of dealer asking and auction sale prices is due to the fact that few older combines, such as the 2003 and 1998 models, are found on dealers’ lots as at that age they are predominantly sold at auction.
2018 Model S780 (dealer)
Average price: $362,200
Price range: $279,500 to $ 449,900
Average sep. hours: 451 hrs.
Sep. hour range: 132 to 988 hrs.
2013 Model S680 (dealer)
Average price: $167,800
Price range: $80,510 to $ 297,000
Average sep. hours: 1,441 hrs.
Sep. hour range: 501 to 2,657 hrs.
2008 Model 9770 STS (dealer)
Average price: $93,500
Price range: $45,000 to $142,500
Average sep. hours: 1,966 hrs.
Sep. hour range: 1,320 to 4,240 hrs.
2003 Model 9650 STS (auction)
Average price: $31,500
Price range: $22,200 to $34,600
Average sep. hours: 2,303
Sep. hour range: 1,966 to 3,611 hrs.
1998 Model 9510 (auction)
Average price: $22,605
Price range: $16,300 to $ 29,300
Average sep. hours: 2,983 hrs.
Sep. hour range: 2,225 to 4,820 hrs.
The overwhelming influence on these prices is their separator and engine hours. This is particular true of older (decade-old or older) harvesters. But notice the narrower price range on the oldest machines (9650 STS and 9510): One of the reasons these models price ranges are much narrower is that this age of combines had fewer options than later machines, which have grown to become accessory rich.