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first tractor for small acreage

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Jim
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2006-02-20          124826


Are their primers available for first-time tractor buyers whose learning-curve is starting from zero--something that lays out the considerations for chosing a small tractor and provides a check list for things to check when buying used.

We just bought what's left of an old homestead and are in the process of putting it back into small acreage production. Its about five acres, square, flat with sandy soil. We plan to raise berries, vegies, etc. No livestock is one the list presently.

For attachments, we will need a mower, tiller, blade and loader.

Price range is negotiable, but I am hoping to keep things in the $10-20k range.

I am leaning toward a used John Deere but there are so many models,horse powers levels, transmissions, etc that it boggles a newby's mind.

As an additional factor, we have early teen kids who I would like to eventually put on the tractor, so safety and easy operation are an issue.

I have visited the JD and Kubota dealership, poured over their literature, searched the web for resources, and am pidgeon-holing everyone I know who seems to know something about tractors.

As part of this, I thought I would put this out on Tractorpoint and ask for advice from folks with more wisdom and experience. Thanks.



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wingwiper
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2006-02-20          124828


I would say that the John Deere 2210 would be a perfect tractor for you.
Go to the John Deere website and read the specs and look it over. It will take all of the attachements that you are referring to. ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4293 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2006-02-20          124829


If you are considering used. Keep an eye out for a well taken care of John Deere 855. Usually if you can buy them from the owner directly, the chances of working a package deal for the implements is much better. ....

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kickapoobd
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 32 Battlefield, Missouri
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2006-02-20          124832


I was in the same boat about two years ago when I started looking at the myriad of makes and models. I choose Deere based on my visit to the area Deere, Massey, New Holland, Kubota stores. Over about a two month period, I test drove as many different brands and models as I could. I found the 2210 fit my needs and future needs for expansion. I think what made the biggest impact in my decision was the dealer. How he seemed to actually care about getting me the right equipment. This web site also steered me that direction with some of the same information I am sharing with you. Best of luck in what ever you decide. ....

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Iowafun
Join Date: Jul 2004
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2006-02-20          124833


The hard part is there is no black or white right answer to your question. It sounds like you will be using the tractor for some good work. So I'd try to keep the hours down a bit on what you do buy. Test drive several tractors. Asking to do that should help you figure out what dealer is better than others. If they won't help, then forget them as you'll probably get cruddy after-sales service too.

Finally, if after 1 or 2 seasons you realize it's not exactly what you need, then you learned and can put that knowledge to the next machine. I learned a ton from my first tractor. But I wouldn't have bought that first tractor had I been a member of the board.

There are some good used equipment out there like the JD 900 series (955, etc) that have plenty of power for what you are looking to do. Maybe find someone in teh area or a bit further away that does the same work and see what they have learned. ....

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tnttommy
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 11 WI
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2006-02-20          124839


Ditto on the 2210. I just liked the feel of the Deere over the Kabota. Ive had it for about 1 1/2 yrs to date and use it pretty much year round. I am now looking to add the tiller. Especially w/ the deere (not sure about other brands) if it turns out the tractor is too much tractor for what you need or not enough, the resale on it should be pretty good. Especially if you can find a good used one. ....

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Jim
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2006-02-20          124843


Thanks to all for the good words and advice. It appears that the consensus is that a 20 HP (give or take) tractor should be adequate for mowing and cultivating 5 acres. This helps because I have heard two schools of thought on HP--the other one is to buy more than you need and shoot for 30-50 horse, which seems excessive for a little 5 acre mini farm.

One other question--do folks recommend the JD EHydro tranmission as opposed to going for more of a utility tractor with a power reverser. The downside which I have heard about the EHydros is that they require electronics behind the dashboard which can cause problems in wet weather. Case and point--a local equipment rental store bought a new 4320 and found that it wouldn't start after it was hosed down. After experienting with selective washings, the store owner found that the dashboard was the place which was vulernable to the water. Thanks. Jim ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2685 NorthWest NJ
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2006-02-20          124845


Jim,

You have gotten alot of advice from guys with subcompacts, and they all seem pretty happy. I have a B7610 Kubota a significantly larger tractor than a sub in the "compact" category. The B7610 is more like a tractor between a Deere 4110 and 4115 in size, and I can tell you that there is no reason to have a smaller tractor on my 5 acres than this.

Sounds like you will be farming the whole 5 acres, if that's the case I would probably go for a tractor bigger than the B7610 like the larger B7800 or even bigger. You will enjoy the better ground clearance of the Compact size tractor over the sub. Also if you will be plowing you will appreciate the weight and superior traction of a larger tire tractor mght even want an L .

When talking tractor size advice, one TP member said "if you can turn it around on your property than it is not too big!"

To some extent this is actually good advice as long as your pocket and storage space can accomodate that.

For multi user operation make sure you get a hyrdo trans. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2685 NorthWest NJ
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2006-02-20          124846


Alot of the Deere tractors have side by side forward reverse pedals. Just my opinion but when I am backing up I like the toe heal hyrdo pedals on Kubota and NH much better as when I am going backwards I am twisted in the seat and it would be awkward to try to hit the reverse pedal up front. The other danger I think is the possibility of hitting the wrong Forward /Reverse pedal when they are side by side. A misstake like that can be costly! Make sure you try both and get the one you like, it is a matter of personal preference. ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2006-02-20          124855


I would look at about 25 hp PTO as a lot of the older farm equipment was design around the Ford 8N, Ferguson TO-20, Oliver Super 55, size range. One option would be the CK-25 Kioti. I have a light JD 955 and would not be looking for one to do farm work. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5242 South Carolina
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2006-02-20          124856


Jim,

I have a Kubota B2710. I do some gardening with it but only some. It does not have the clearance you need for any crop once it breaks the ground. Many vegetables are planted on some kind of bed or the cultivation of them creates a bed. This eats up the limited clearance of any compact tractor I have ever looked at.
Not knowing the JD models that well I would want at least a model L with Kubota just for the clearance issue. Murf gives very good advice when he says you buy the best size for what you will do the most of (hope that is close Murf). I have used a M 6800 Kubota with RFM and it did fine. An over kill, yep in the yard but just right clearance in the field, garden.
As to Dennis comment on the hydrostat pedals, have a Kubota CUT with the single pedal and really like it. I can understand where dual pedals could be an issue.
If you are planning on plowing you will find you need ag tires with proper ballast. The traction will be an issue or could be when working in a field. Some will tell you ag tires will damage your lawn, I have used two different 6 to 7,000 ag tractors on 3 or 4 diffrent yards myself with no show of the ag tires. It is the front tires digging in when turning that will cut the yard.
Be careful where or whom you consider used with. All selling such are not honest. Most states have no title so if it is stolen, hard to know.
I have been very pleased with my Kubotas. Was pleased with Case very well also. Find dealership of any brand you get along well with and then look at the next dealership for that brand just in case the first closes or they change brands. Both happens.
Jim, gotten long here. Look at what equipment you will need for your berries and such. They will do some telling you what you must have in tractor. Pulled equipment eats up horses.
kt

Just saw Peters post,
One thing different with those tractors he mentions is WEIGHT. They are heavy compared to the tractors of that size today. They pulled better due to that. Also, the HP went up on them right quick. 601 Ford Workmaster was about 34 HP I think. ....

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bayhouse
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2 in a house
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2006-02-21          124886


KT - You raise a good point about titles and stolen property when it comes to buying a used tractor. In this state, possession of stolen property is a strict liability situation. Any advice on what someone should do when buying a used tractor to take reasonable steps to make sure that the seller actually owns the goods? Does John Deere or Kubota have a serial number registration service that allows potential buyers to research a particular machine (as is now possible with autos).
Thanks,
Jim

....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
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2006-02-21          124887


For me the JD side-by-side pedals are far more usable than the Kubota treadle pedal. I didn't care for the operation of the huge Kubota pedal at all. It takes up the entire right side of the floorboard making it hard to get on and off on that side and it seemed like a tripping hazard as well. I've had zero problems backing up and find it second nature. All around I felt the JD ergonomics were superior but it's been said many times that you need to drive each model and decide for yourself.

Your story of the eHydro not working after a hose down seems unusual. That's doesn't seem to be a problem reported here often (if ever before). My neighbor has a 4210 with eHydro and it has been stored outside for several years here in rainy Oregon. No problems starting yet. Maybe it's like a car - if you pressure wash certain areas you can expect a problem. ....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2006-02-21          124890


My first inclination would be to suggest a larger tractor. However, after thinking about it, smaller may be better. If you're doing mowing, etc. between rows of berries, you don't want a 72" deck. Likewise, you may want a narrow tiller like 48" rather than a 60 or 72".

The initial description didn't say what kinds of berries. Strawberry vs: blueberry or raspberry that can grow on vines or stalks rather than flat. I'm visualizing rows of berries that are covered about 3-4 foot wide with wood chips to retard weed growth with a walking swath of about 60"to 72" between. I'm thinking rows may be on 9' to 10' centers. This would allow you to drive thru with a small tractor and trailer.

If you are mowing between, you may want a smaller mower with bagger. If you are not into bagging, a rear discharge would be good so you don't blow grass clippings onto the berries.

I use a 60" wide tiller for first pass tilling in the garden and then go between the veggie rows with a walk behind during the growing season until it gets overgrown.

A sub-compact will limit you to lifting capacity of the FEL to 500lbs. or less. Is that practical for your uses. You definitely can do most of the work with a sub-compact but not as fast. There will be some tasks out of it capabilities. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
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2006-02-21          124892


Ken, my B7610 has a completely flat floor board there is no large pedal on top of the floor board, my linkage is all under the floor board. I know many of the Kubotas have it on top, and I agree that it looks like a nuisance like that. I also would be concerned that snow could be pushed under it causing problems as well. ....

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yooperpete
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Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2006-02-21          124894


Another possibility is to go to Lowe's and get a John Deere garden tractor for $3,000.00 that has 25HP and 54" cut mower deck. (Smaller garden tractors and narrower decks are also available or you can get the same deal from your local JD Dealer) Then also get a nice used larger CUT. ....

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Iowafun
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2006-02-21          124896


Whew!! Lots of advice here some of which can be conflicting. Here's my story which includes the thought process I used in selecting my tractor.

I own 20 acres of which 3 are "lawn" and mowed regularly. I'm in the country and have a stone driveway. So the tractor clears snow in winter. Because of the snow aspect, I wanted MFWD. I use my loader for big drifts in the driveway and also piling up the snow during bad winters. So I looked at loader specs to see how high they went and what their capacity was. I compared that against what I did with my existing tractor and what I expected to do.

The MFWD and loader specs started to narrow down the field. Then I wanted something to mow with. I prefered mid-mount because of the trees/obstacles I mow around. That eliminated a few more tractors. I wanted power to drive a big mower deck (72") as I had been spending over 8 hours each Saturday using a 54" deck on a JD325 (17 hp lawn tractor). That narrowed the search even more.

I wanted to eventually use a box blade for driveway maintenance and a tiller for the garden. These implements needed to be wide enough to cover tire tracks for my needs. That set the minimum power requirements for the PTO and eliminated a few more tractors.

I went with ehydro since I planned on changing jobs which would require me to travel more. So my wife needed to operate it in the event I was gone and we had significant snow. So I looked at her capabilities for using a clutch vs maintenance costs and chose ehydro.

I went about it in a systematic manner based on what my intended usage was and the implement's requirements to achieve that. Finally, the $ factor came in. So I wound up with a JD 4310 mid-sized utility tractor and I love it. My wife loves mowing with it. It cut my mowing time by more than 50%.

This is long. Be systematic about what you need it to do. Use that to set the minimum and maximum specs. Take your time. You will get there. 2 weeks from now your knowledge base will be bigger than today. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
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2006-02-21          124903


Jim,

I think it has been suggested here to go to the brand of tractor such as JD you are looking at with serial number and they can sometimes tell you who it belongs to or if it is reported stolen.

Recently there was a post here by someone who had bought a stolen tractor. I think you will find more advice on this also yet given. If not ask on another thread so it is noticed.

Have joy with your tractor and be careful.

kt ....

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kwschumm
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2006-02-21          124907


Dennis, I didn't know that the B series pedals were different. The Grand L series 3130 I drove had the big treadle pedal so I thought that was the style used on all their machines. I'd own a Kubota but if the choice was a hydro with the big honkin treadle pedal or one of the other trannies I'd skip the hydro. ....

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ncrunch32
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2006-02-21          124922


Interesting post by KT. Are tractors a highly regarded for thieves to resell? Especially since they have no title? They must be like easy cash. I see state, county tractors left along the road all the time. The reason I ask is that I have seen suspicious activity by someone who has no need for 2 tractors moving one of them around daily as if he is hiding it. Either the repo man is on his way or this tractor was stolen. ....

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091755
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2006-02-21          124925


Jim
You may want to look into a used kubota B-2400 or similar. I have had one for 11 years and it is simply unbelievable what this little tractor can do. It will run a 5 foot brush-hog with ease, a backblade, a 4 foot FEL and runs a 5 foot tiller with ease. I often see these for sale with low hours and wonder why they are for sale. I use mine 'hard' and it does a ton of work. For your acreage it would be plenty and you should be able to get a good used one with a FEL for well under $20K. Tiller, backblade, and brushhog would be extra, unless the person has the whole works.
Also, get the hydrostatic with 4 wheel drive - you simply will not be sorry.
doc ....

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bayhouse
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2 in a house
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2006-02-22          124969


This is wonderful feedback. The differing opinions are good for perspective and the encouragement helps make the process of working through the vast number of tractors which seem to be out there a little more manageable.

A couple of additional pieces of information:

The berries will be bush fruit (raspberries, blue berries)and the situation is as Vooperpete suggested. We will be converting what is now mostly a hay field into veggies and fruit so we will likely be using the tractor to till, level the ground in places, and then mow. We are in the Pacific NW so snow removal is not an issue here.

I also picked up a used John Deere LX255 riding mower recently to mow the house lot and help out in tight places. It also seemed like a good machine for the kids to learn on as they move up to a tractor.

From the advice so far, it seems that a likely tractor would be a JD FWD 4100 ten or 4200 ten (or Kubota equivalent) with at least 20 HP at the PTO and Ag tires. Since it will have multiple users, an EHydro and power steering seems like a good idea.

Thanks to all for the good thoughts. I will keep checking in case anyone as additional advice.

Jim ....

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