Road Travel and Hot Topics

Farmer Iron

Nothing like a little highway time to teach you about the farm equipment business.

Published on: August 1, 2011

Saw something interesting last week when driving east as part of a vacation trip - I saw a lot of westbound combines and noted one key fact: none were Class VI machines. I saw plenty of Class VII and VIII machines - in fact my wife wanted to start counting how many we saw (that’s her thing).

Yet this simple fact speaks volumes about how this industry is changing. The move to larger combines means you’re enhancing your harvest efficiency. Note that combine makers don’t usually build machines on “spec” these days. In fact, they would rather have a deposit on a machine before it starts down the manufacturing line. That’s not a hard and fast rule, and an enterprising dealer can order machines to meet a future need, but that does mean those machines heading down the highway are going to a buyer.

You’re working to reduce labor costs and a bigger combine can do that. One Class VII machine can do more work than a Class VI. I’m not getting into the debate about one company’s “Super” VII machine versus a Class VIII - that’s for dealers and the market to work out. But it does show there’s greater attention being paid to the size of these harvest machines. The goal - harvest the crop in two months - we stated that recently. And if that means a bigger combine, it means making a purchase. Judging from all the machines I saw, you’re pulling the trigger.

Of course that may means getting bigger carts, bigger trucks and other support tools to keep that bigger combine moving - you want to maximize that investment and if it’s stopped and waiting for to unload, that’s wasted cash. Buyers of these bigger machines will figure it out.

And as this column appears we’re less than a month away from the 2011 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill. (Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1). If you haven’t pulled the trigger on a new machine, that’s the place to start looking for one (or perhaps Husker Harvest Days two weeks later). There you can talk with company representatives about the productivity of the machines and make the best match for your farm.

If you’re coming to the big shows this fall, just what are you looking at and what equipment do you need? Let me know and I’ll include your input in the pre-show blog to run the week of 8/22 - and thanks for your input. Just send a message to or write a message below (for registered users only).