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It’s a sellers’ market for like-new combines

With most of the wheat and barley tucked in bins and elevators, and corn threatening to dent, this is the time of year used combine prices are “vigorous,” at best.

I love that term. Dan Sullivan of Sullivan Auctioneers used it once to describe how bidding was going on late-model combines. That was a little less than two years ago when agriculture was breaking out of its commodity price lethargy and farmers were keen to buy iron again.

That seems a lifetime ago with the supply shortages we experienced. The good news is that new combine production is up, which is helping to steady prices on used machines. Notice my use of steady. 

The Pocket Guide tells that story. Listed are 1-year-old Deere S780 and S770 harvesters. I selected only combines with rear-wheel drive (RWD) and front duals. The prices you see in the guide represent the top end of the asking amounts for these combine models. The listing reveals the lowest to highest prices being asked. I couldn’t include all the combines because at press time 227 Model S780s and 124 Model S770s were on the market. I selected both the low and high values and evenly spaced the asking prices in between. Not that there was a huge difference in that price spread.

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Notice how tight the ranges are for the 2021 Deere S Series combines listed below. Also note that combine use has little if any impact on the asking prices listed in the Pocket Guide. This provides evidence that this is entirely a sellers’ market — and those sellers are sticking to their guns when it comes to asking prices.

Asking prices and separator hours for 2021 John Deere combines

S760 (19 available)
Avg. price: $409,500
Price range: $379,900 to $455,000
Avg. separator hours: 248
Separator hours range: 175 to 316
S770 (124 available)
Avg. dealer price: $441,300
Price range: $381,000 to $524,000
Avg. separator hours: 351
Separator hours range: 95 to 650
S780 (227 available)
Avg. dealer price: $441,300
Price range: $399,900 to $589,000
Avg. separator hours: 296
Separator hours range: 114 to 550
S790 (96 available)
Avg. dealer price: $511,900
Price range: $455,000 to $645,000
Avg. separator hours: 316
Separator hours range: 94 to 498

That is what you need to do when it comes to selling or trading your harvester, whether it is green, red, or yellow.

Yes, you are paying more for like-new or brand-new combines. Still, you should also expect to get top dollar for your harvester. So before selling or dealing, hit the internet and establish a firm price figure you must have. Then stick to that price like glue. After all, it’s a sellers’ market.

Asking prices and separator hours for earlier model Deere combines

2018 2016 2014 2012
S760 (10 available)
Price range: $224,900 to $367,500
Separator hours: 611 to 1,250
S660 (15 available)
Price range: $164,900 to $235,273
Separator hours: 706 to 1,725
S660 (24 available)
Price range: $116,500 to $265,000
Separator hours: 811 to 2,289
S660 (24 available)
Price range: $105,000 to $181,600
Separator hours: 1,317 to 2,410
S770 (56 available)
Price range: $184,500 to $450,000
Separator hours: 410 to 2,462
S670 (46 available)
Price range: $135,000 to $284,270
Separator hours: 584 to 2,146
S670 (56 available)
Price range: $124,900 to $311,900
Separator hours: 545 to 2,397
S670 (61 available)
Price range: $99,100 to $229,900
Separator hours: 1,375 to 2,850
S780 (174 available)
Price range: $239,900 to $459,000
Separator hours: 404 to 958
S680 (121 available)
Price range: $139,000 to $414,574
Separator hours: 448 to 2,122
S680 (143 available)
Price range: $119,000 to $272,400
Separator hours: 846 to 2,943
S680 (104 available)
Price range: $93,971 to $217,100
Separator hours: 1,003 to 3,620
S790 (66 available)
Price range: $285,000 to $472,200
Separator hours: 380 to 1,395
S690 (38 available)
Price range: $195,186 to $339,556
Separator hours: 716 to 1,740
S690 (46 available)
Price range: $139,200 to $264,500
Separator hours: 752 to 2,851
S690 (41 available)
Price range: $106,100 to $217,000
Separator hours: 1,228 to 3,620

Upcoming Auctions

Aug. 20: Riechmann Auction (riechmannauction.com) has set its multi-farmer absolute auction for Okawville, Illinois.

Aug. 24: Wieman Land & Auction (wiemanauction.com) holds its massive annual pre harvest sale near Marion, South Dakota.

Aug. 27: The Annual Farm Consignment Auction with two sale rings is being held in Hawk Point, Missouri, by Allen Auction & Real Estate Service (allenauction.net).

Hard cash in that line of old iron sitting in sheds

The massive expansion of online-only auctions (which allow you to sell equipment from your farm with the online buyer making arrangements for transport from that location) and the proliferation of consignment auctions offer an opportunity to sell little-used or abandoned machinery for hard cash.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve gone to a farm and the farmer has his old equipment in the machine shed and the new equipment sitting outside,” says Mark Stock of BigIron Auctions (bigiron.com). “Most farmers have at least half a dozen pieces of unused equipment sitting around taking up space.”

Unused equipment, even if it’s stored, loses value with time, as its batteries, tires, hoses, and seals deteriorate. As such, there is a cost in the form of lost value in keeping equipment. An Iowa State University study found that the economic life for most equipment is 10 to 12 years and 15 years for tractors.

Occasionally, old iron appreciates in value. A good example of that can be seen in the 1991 Case IH 1044 corn head that brought $6,000 at a Wieman Auction consignment sale. A 1988 six row Case IH head brought $6,500 at the same sale. Both examples point to the appreciation occurring in smaller equipment that is no longer made and, thus, is highly sought after by part time and hobby farmers.

Another example of escalating values in older equipment is a 28-year-old Case IH 496 disk that went for $13,000 in a BigIron online auction. I did some digging and found eight 28-foot-wide 496s that sold in the last six months from $9,700 up to $21,700.

Tractors from the 1960s and 1970s, particularly muscle tractors over 100 hp., are sought by collectors, and this is escalating their values. An Oliver 1800 brought $18,500 at an auction in Indiana.

True, these are the exceptional examples of iron appreciating in value, but most machinery represents thousands of dollars in cash. For this reason, Stock advises you to take an inventory of unused equipment. You can consult with an auctioneer or an estate consultant, or you can go online to past sale results to put a value on your unused equipment. After that, find an online or live consignment sale to cash in on that equipment’s latent value.

Stock offers these pointers to sizing up the cash potential in your old machinery stocks:

  • Inventory what you have. Take plenty of pictures for a keepsake to help you remember your equipment.
  • Keep the equipment that means the most to you like the classic tractor you grew up with or implements that are the easiest to maintain.
  • Sell the rest via an online auction.
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