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The acute planter shortage

Planters are not as rare as hen’s teeth. That honor goes to tillage equipment.

Yet the iron shortages that are plaguing all of agriculture are quite acute when it comes to late-model planters. The used equipment listing site for Deere dealers, machinefinder.com, had 891 total pull-type planters of all models and ages listed at press time. Compare that to 1,455 planters listed at that same site a year ago. Searching for 2020 and 2021 pull-types alone pared down those listings to 110.

So if you are looking to pick up a planter before the season starts, be prepared to:

  • Pay a price premium.
  • Search for a replacement far from home.
  • Work with your dealer to have that planter shipped to you.

Of course, you can make the purchase direct, but it makes the process much easier if your dealer works with a remote dealer to close the deal and make arrangements for transport.

Consider Asking Prices as Set in Stone

Not that I’m adverse to bargaining, but be warned that dealers likely won’t budge on their asking prices these days. They don’t have to. It’s a sellers’ market right now.

Two to three years down the road will be another matter. Manufacturing will return to its full vigor, and then some, once the component and steel shortages relinquish. Iron builders are as good at turning out high numbers of machinery as farmers are at raising high yields. 

This, in turn, will result in a healthy influx of late-model planters on the market, and prices will stabilize. Dealers will repopulate their lots with late-model used machinery, and auctions will once again offer bargains on consignments.

In the meantime, you have two options. First, keep your old planter and rebuild it so the implement is operating at peak accuracy. Errant seed spacing and depth placement are well proven to cut yields. A quick guide to preseason maintenance can be accessed by searching for “Planter Performance Checklist for Maximum Yields” at Agriculture.com.

Look at Acres Covered Closely

You may be surprised by the acres late-model planters have covered.

With any other late-model implement, acres covered isn’t as serious a matter as their components (ground engaging parts) most likely won’t be worn to the point of replacement.

That is not the case with planters because their seed metering systems do wear enough in just one season to often require replacement — unless they have covered fewer than 4,000 acres for 24-row units (fewer acres for smaller planters).

Reset Your Expectations For Planter Purchases

By Andy Campbell, TractorZoom.com

The time has come. We have held out for the past couple of years, but now we need to upgrade our planter. There are a few reasons for this, but mostly it’s the central fill. With the seed tender doing the heavy lifting, my dad can continue to plant without waiting for help or having to manhandle the bags himself.

I understand this year is not exactly the most ideal time to be looking for new machinery, but the alternative of being without one is worse. Will next year be any better? I decided to look at supply and prices at TractorZoom.com to get an idea of what I should expect at auctions or dealerships this spring. 

It’s All About Supply

Dealer consolidations have left us with only a few dealers remaining in our area. Before walking their lots, we wanted to start by casting a wider net to understand all our options. Looking through Tractor Zoom I can tell you that, yes, the supply of planters has tightened: 2021 saw just 70% of the comparable planter sales at auction that 2020 had. Yet, at the time of writing this in early 2022, there were more than 600 available for sale on our site. Most of those are high-quality machines at dealerships.

29181_chart

24-Row Units Dominate

We likely will be sticking with a 24-row planter. The distribution of available sizes of planters does differ between auctions and dealers. Dealerships tend to carry more valuable equipment, so it is no surprise that 32% of planters at dealerships are 24 row, and 20% of their inventory has more than 30 rows.

Contrast that with auctions where their most common size across the country is 16 row (27% of sales). Auctions can and do offer quality larger planters; it’s just not as common as on dealers’ lots.

What Values to Expect

Planter values are one of the hardest implements to nail down. All the row options available create a ton of variability. Yet with all of our sales data, we can still determine average shifts in the market.

In 2021 the entire planter market averaged an increase of 15% to 20% in price over the previous year. Is that what I can expect with the planter we are looking for? If I’m lucky. The category of 24-row planters saw the largest percentage leap in values.

Some lightly used 24-row models brought 40% more than they did a year ago at auction! If your operation is more nimble, the smaller 16- or 12-row planters seemed to evade most of the inflationary pressures as you can see in the graph at left.

Knowing that supplies are tight and that we have to actively work to find the right deal, we saved a search on Tractor Zoom. When the right planter becomes available, we’ll know it. Then the challenge will be trying to schedule a truck to ship it!

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