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Late-Model Cultivator Prices Rise

A challenge I faced while researching the dealer asking prices for a recent Pocket Price Guide was that I had to take a close look at every listing to see if the field cultivator being offered for sale was listed as used or new. This begs the question: Why are brand-new cultivators being listed on used equipment websites?

It’s because dealers are sitting on leftover new iron, some of which is 2 to 3 years old. This same phenomenon also exists with grain carts, as I reported last September. Except when it came to grain carts, the listings of “new-old stock” were extremely long. This situation explains why the value of late-model carts was so depressed last fall.

This, however, is not the case with field cultivators based on a comparison of the prices being asked for similar size and age implements I undertook a year ago. For example, last year, dealer asking prices for 2-year-old 45½-foot-wide John Deere 2210s were averaging $47,100.

Today, that average (again for 2-year-old machines) is running at $52,300. This comparison offers proof that dealers are ridding themselves of used tillage implement inventories, which have been high since late in 2014.

nothing average about cultivators

I’m hesitant to start citing averages, as there is nothing average about pricing field cultivators (either used or new) these days. That’s due to the proliferation of options being made available by manufacturers. Rear attachment variations, once restricted to coil-tine or spike-tooth harrows, are in abundance. In addition, used diggers may include extra-wide or knock-on sweeps, single-point depth control, pivoting gauge or stabilizing wheels, low-transport folding profiles, and heavy-duty trip legs. 

“The trend to customizing field cultivators to particular needs certainly seemed to expand in the last decade, when farmers were willing to spend more money on a basic tillage implement like the field cultivator,” observes Scott Steffes of the Steffes Group. “Much like buying a tractor or truck, you need to include the value of such options in addition to the width and age of the cultivator when figuring out what you’re willing to pay for an implement.”

tillage equipment is a local market

The other issue that influences the value of used tillage equipment – whether it’s sitting on a dealer’s yard or in an auction lot – is that the trading area for this type of machinery is more restricted than wheeled equipment like tractors, combines, or sprayers.

“It’s not unusual to see a self-propelled sprayer being bought in Illinois and then transported to Texas,” notes Rich Vacha of Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers. “Tillage implements like field cultivators are bought pretty close to home, because transporting them is problematic.”

So when doing your research – either in person or online – temper the top price you are willing to give for a field cultivator by your location. If, for example, your area suffered a drought last year, local values will be lower than the internet average. 

inspect – then buy 

One of the best investments you can make is a 10- to 15-minute inspection prior to purchase of a used implement.

Here are three key areas to carefully examine.

  • Frame. Do a walk-around to look for cracks (especially at high-stress areas like lift pivot points) as well as bent framing (on the hitch, for example), suggests Scott Steffes of the Steffes Group. “You get a good idea of how well the seller cared for the equipment by its condition,” he says.  
  • Worn soil-engaging tools. Don’t be willing to overlook worn sweeps or disks when setting a purchase price. The cost of sweeps (depending on width and design) can range from $5 to $13.50 each.
  • Hydraulic system. Starting at the front of the implement, examine all hoses looking for those that are abraded, cracked, crushed, or punctured. Cracking is the most common hose ailment on older used implements, says Tim Dean of Gate Corporation. “Slight cracking doesn’t present a problem, but if the covering is flaking off, then you need to replace that hose. This is also the case if a hose has been crushed or punctured,” Dean says. 
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