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Pricey rock pickers

For over 22 years now, I've been covering machinery auctions all over the U.S. and Canada. A little secret I learned long ago is that each and every auction will have at least one item that will grab my attention. It could be for a high sale price or maybe a low price. It could be that the buyer came from two, three, or five states away. I can look at a sale bill prior to any auction and think I'll know where the story lies.


But you just never know.

Take, for example, the October 13, 2011, auction near Cody, Wyoming, by my auctioneer friends at Musser Brothers, Inc.

This was a very nice sale for a large Angus operation and featured a good lineup of equipment. The table on the previous page gives a partial price report.

In the days leading up to the auction, I was focused on the 1992 John Deere Model 4960 tractor with only 3,470 hours. You don't see too many 4960s floating around on the market with fewer than 4,000 hours. Plus, 200-hp. used tractors in very good condition have been selling extremely high at auction in late summer into early fall 2011.

Look at the list and notice the two top items highlighted in red. One is a Schulte SRW 1400 that sold for $14,500. The other is a Vermeer BP78 that sold for $17,000.

Actually this isn't the first time rock pickers have been a surprise item at a recent auction.


At a real nice retirement auction in north-central Iowa on November 19, 2010, there were lots of late-model, low-hour equipment held by my friends, Gene and Mike Ryerson, with Ryerson Auction & Realty. What grabbed me that day was the Riteway RR900 rock picker that sold for $14,500, a new record-high auction price.

Used rock picker values have been climbing the last few years. You can see this trend in the table at the left. This details auction sale prices on various makes and models of pickers.

Pay close attention to the Date column. This lets you know when each rock picker sold at auction. Look at the last two Riteway Model RR900s listed. Both were 2005 models. One picker sold for $9,750 on a sale in southeast Minnesota in March 2006. So it was only one year old at the time.

The other rock picker went for $12,000 on a December 2010 auction in southwest Ohio. So that rock picker was five years old, yet it sold for $2,250 more.

Note the similar pattern on the Summers 700s. That last one listed sold for $10,000 on a December 2007 auction in southeast North Dakota. It was brand-new, never used. Now compare that picker to the 2000 Model 700 in excellent condition that sold for $11,500 on the December 2009 auction in east-central South Dakota.

Maybe it's not so much what you sell or where, but when you sell.

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