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Midsize, Late-Model Round Balers

2014 model year balers offer a sweet spot of potential dealer pricing.

Strong cattle prices beginning in late 2013 and strengthening in 2014 and 2015 have presented an opportunity to cash in on competitive pricing for round balers on dealers’ lots and at auction. During those years, and particularly during 2014, a lot of new balers were purchased.

Today, dealers’ lots have a healthy inventory of 2013 and 2014 balers. 

Checking with (mostly comprising Deere balers) reveals the bulge of round baler inventories. 

  • 2012 models – 136 listings    
  • 2013 models – 277 listings
  • 2014 models – 298 listings    
  • 2015 models – 256 listings

balers could maintain value in future

The recent fall in cattle prices has slowed trade-ins down considerably. This sets up one of those rare opportunities regarding late-model used equipment in which you can buy a machine today that will likely maintain its current value when sold or traded a couple of years from now. In other words, you can buy a 2014 or 2015 today that you’ll be able to trade in two years from now for the same or close to the same money.

What’s making this possible is the drop in new baler sales in 2016, which is predicted to continue into 2017. This dries up the supply of late-model trade-ins driving up used values.

Also, what makes this a good time to buy a late-model round baler is the fact that some dealers are incentifying sales with low- or no-interest loans. That savings, combined with soft asking prices, offers the opportunity to upgrade your baler at a very reasonable cost.

round balers affected by spring sales

Seasonality will certainly impact the price you’ll have to pay for any baler, whether of a small square or large round configuration, points out Scott Cook of Cook Auction. “Certainly, it’s one of those pieces of used equipment that producers wait until just before hay season to buy, and that will drive up their price at auction,” Cook explains. “Large square balers, primarily used by commercial hay producers, are different in that regard, because they are often bought or sold at the end of the hay season.”

Cook’s comments refer to auction sales, but the same timing applies to dealer purchases. “Particularly when it comes to round balers, we see a lot of sales in the late spring,” says Jeremy Knuth of Heritage Tractor, a Deere dealership network located in Kansas and Missouri. 

features that affect asking price

The values listed in the Pocket Price Guide reflect dealer asking prices only on 2014 round balers that produce 5-foot-wide bales. I chose this size baler because it’s the most popular harvester on the market.

Certainly these values reflect differences in how well equipped a baler is. For example, Specialty Crop or Silage Special machines sell for 10% to 20% more. Other features – such as a hydraulic header pickup lift, bale push bar, high-flotation tires, and the ability to vary belt pressure to adjust bale cores – add to the price of a machine. The most important consideration of value, reflecting Cook’s comments in the adjacent story, is bale production. 

inspect balers for wear and tear prior to the buy

With the possible exception of 1- to 2-year-old balers, you should invest a bit of time inspecting a machine you’re interested in prior to purchase.  

The first and most important item to inspect on any baler is the bale counter. 

“That’s as good a guide to determining how much life is left in the belts, key bearings, and other wear components as anything I can think of,” says Scott Cook of Cook Auction of Clinton, Missouri. “Certainly, general overall appearance will give you an idea of how well it was taken care of, but bale counts reveal how much internal wear you are buying.”

Following are other key components to inspect prior to purchase. 

  • Pickup head. If there is a single component that testifies to user abuse, it is the head. While examining the head, pay particular attention to the underside of the pickup bands for deterioration.
  • Tires. Examine rubber for cuts and deterioration, as the cost of replacements ranges from $339 up to $850. (The latter price accounts for 21.5L-16.1 10-ply high-flotation tires.) 
  • Knotter assembly. Take a look at the entire knotter assembly, looking beyond the knives for extra wear. Determining a baler’s bale count will give you a good idea if this component needs extra work.
  • Drive chains. Primarily, you are looking for excessive wear of rollers and side-to-side play, indicating replacement. 
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