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David Plescia  |  New Family Farm  |  Sebastopol, CA

Subject: Tractor models that have worked? The classic One-Tractor dilemma

Howdy Farmers,

I am looking for specific tractor models, old or new (manufacturer, model, and year) that veggie growers have really liked, so that I can search them used on TractorHouse. Our situation is this...

My partner and I are tooling up to break ground on a 6-8 acre, diverse vegetable CSA in Sebastopol. We are researching tractors, and deep into the classic "one tractor conundrum". With the ability to only afford one tractor, we would like to have a versatile one. We'd like it to be able to do primary tillage, as well as has have properly spaced and thin enough tires to get it into our shaped beds to help renovate beds for second-plantings (to undercut, disc, rototill, or spade), to weed the furrows and to possibly flame-weed (if we can find a 60" tractor mounted flame weeder). We will cultivate in-row manually the first years.

Our requirements are: ~50 horsepower, 4WD, 60" center-to-center tread spacing with thin <13" rear tires, a front end loader, and gearing or a transmission that can go slow enough to run a spader. We could pay ~$30k for the right machine.

This tractor does exist new. It is the Kubota M7060 outfitted with a creeper gear and thin 12.6" rear tires. Shone Farm in Santa Rosa and New Family Farm in Sebastopol have this tractor. But at $50k, this is outside of our budget, and is too much tractor for our site and scale.

I have looked at cheaper new Kubotas (L and MX series) and John Deeres (5E series), but while some of them meet many of the requirements, one key element is missed. For example, the John Deere 5055E is the right horsepower and size, 4wd, can have a loader, but it's lowest gear is a touch fast at .9mph, and right now our dealer is essentially saying "not possible" for thin rear tires.

I'm seeking advice, and if farmers could share specefic model numbers and years, of any "Goldilocks" tractors they have used and loved @60" spacing, with low gearing.

Thank you!

David

In Topics Equipment, Beginning Farmers & Ranchers, Anything Goes

In General FarmsReach community, North Coast Farmers Guild: Sebastopol, Cooperation Among Farmers, Nevada County Guild

Comments 15
12/01/16, updated
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  |  none  |  Santa Ana commented

I'd recommend Kubota or Massey Ferguson.

09/24/19 9:37 PM, updated
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  |  Yolo Press  |  Winters, CA commented

I notice that today (12/30) on Modesto craigslist is a Massey Ferguson 275 (72hp) tractor with new engine, new clutch, new tires, 'professionally restored' (according to ad) asking $8500. I would check it out carefully, but that's a tractor that would do everything you need, except cultivating, without running you deep into debt.

12/30/18 6:43 AM
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  |  Yolo Press  |  Winters, CA commented

One other thought: don't forget to leave half of your equipment budget for implements. Chisel plow, perfecta, bed shaper, flail mower, cultivating sled--these things add up.

If I were starting from scratch I would look for a 200 series Massey Ferguson (240,255,265) with a Perkins diesel; these tractors are bulletproof. To that I would add a Farmall cultivating tractor (Super A, 100, 140).(Avoid the later Farmall 265 with a really unfortunate Nissan diesel). No bucket.

12/29/18 7:28 AM
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  |  Yolo Press  |  Winters, CA commented

Why just one tractor? I have 5 tractors on a one-man farm, which makes work more efficient. A Kubota 245H cultivating tractor for cultivating, Kubota 3450 for tillage, Kubota MX 4700 for mowing in the orchards, and two Massey-Ferguson 35's gas, one for pulling a trailer, the other for miscellaneous. The MF cost $1500 for one, $2800 for the other, both in excellent condition. My total cost for all 5 tractors was less than $30K. The expected useful life of a smaller tractor (less than 60hp) is 6,000 hours--there are lots of older tractors around with plenty of life left for low prices. I don't have a loader--never saw any need for one. I use a rear scoop ('Super Pan') for spreading compost.

One person commented that he thought 60inch beds might be too wide. I would second that. I use 48 inch beds (the old tobacco standard) and have had no difficulty getting equipment set up for that

... Read More
12/29/18 6:17 AM
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  |  AgroAsiaTractors  |  Ny commented

Dears All,

Trust me I am farmer from Botswana and been using Massey Ferguson Models (old versions), trust me I am no joking, but I found these working even in case of some failure in them, these tractors are manual operated and does not contain technology monopolies, believe me that my other fellows from Gaborone are very much satisfied and looking to purchase more.

I would suggest all friends to check their Botswana tractor website

12/29/18 12:42 AM
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  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA commented

I swear I am not a Kubota sales rep, and I've never actually seen a 7060 up close, but the online specs say that both the front and rear wheel spacing on the 4wd model can be set at 60 inches. http://www.tractordata.com/farm-tractors/007/4/2/7423-kubota-m7060-dimensions.html

This turned into a great thread with lots of farmers posting...I guess it takes tractor talk in December to get the FR forums humming.

The reason everyone likes Kubotas is because they are still built the old way, to last. Little or no electronics, no computers, simple hydraulic systems, bombproof engines, and components and parts that are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive.

12/05/16 9:41 PM, updated
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  |  Solid Ground Farm llc  |  Belchertown, MA commented

Hello David. Finding one tractor to do everything is, not so easy, but that's what I'm doing. First off, what are you trying to accomplish with the tractor? Ok, you've explained a bunch already; you always have to go back to that thought. My very first thought is, will you NEED a bucket on this tractor? Because once an old school style bucket is connected to a tractor, you can't take it off in a jiffy.

Right now you are talking about newer tractors,...and that, in my opinion, is a mistake. You will end up spending A LOT of money when you could have spent less and gotten more. Old tractors were not built to die, like cars, they are solid. They have things like carbuerators, oil air filters, and clutches, and ignition points....which may seem like disadvantages until you have to replace a part and realize that the parts to replace your tractor are CHEAP CHEAP in comparison to the new fangled

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12/04/16 6:54 AM
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  |  TD Willey Farms  |  Madera, CA commented

Paul's absolutely correct, Kubota is best tractor out there these days.

Better yet, go visit Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser's farm in your community; no tractor needed. Save your money for kids' college or for retirement.
Best, Tom Willey
12/02/16 6:33 PM
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  |  Feral Heart Farm  |  Sunol, CA commented

I suggest you rethink your bed spacing. 60" would be great I suppose but you'll also have to lean over those beds more. Isn't your back sore enough?

We went with Dolk tractor in Rio Vista and got an L3901 with hst for $18 k without a bucket. That would have put us at $23k had we gone for it. Our tractor had 91 hours on it when we bought it. We also took advantage of Kubota's financing which was$0 down, 0 interest for 5 years. Hard to beat.

We use a spader for secondary tillage like turning beds over but it's way too slow for primary tillage. And we are only working 2.5 acres. We're looking for a small offset disc for primary tillage to complete our tractor implements. It's never really complete though, is it? We have a toolbar for hilling up that also doubles as an inline cultivator, and we have a bed shaper. We can still do three lines of lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, etc., and two

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12/02/16 6:22 PM
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  |  New Family Farm  |  Sebastopol, CA commented

Hi Gentlemen,

All very helpful, thank you.

I would love a Kubota. The problem is that Kubota doesn't make a compact (or semi compact tractor) 4wd tractor that can do 60" spacing. I wish they did. You're into some large tractors by the time Kubota can do 60" spacing.

So despite the warnings, I think we are leaning toward a John Deere 5055E with 4wd, 13.6" rears, @ 60" spacing, loader, for 30k? I think we can manage with the .9mph low gear speed.

12/02/16 5:21 PM
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  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA commented

Big Valley Tractor, Stockton... 7060HD 4wd with HST, 426 hours for $26,540. That ad is from September, I haven't picked up an issue of Ag Source lately. Same tractor. I didn't see that you needed a loader though; you are not going to get that in a rental return tractor. You would have to buy it as an ad-on, which would probably cost you $8K or so depending on whether you went with an aftermarket brand or not.

12/02/16 11:24 AM, updated
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  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA commented

John Deere tractors are high-maintenance with lots of bells and whistles that are impossible to fix without patented JD tools and equipment...I'm not going to spend lots of time bashing them here but Kubotas are a better choice for a tractor under 100 h.p. I started using Kubotas 25 years ago and all my neighbors laughed at me; now almost no one around here uses anything else for their smaller tractor needs.

12/02/16 11:17 AM
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  |  Johnny's Selected Seeds/Rinky Dink Ranch  |  Rumsey, CA commented

Hey David

Pauls comments would be duplicated by a number of farmers I think: brand, tire size, horsepower Etc

This tractor on your scale could make for a very efficient program.

The perfect tractor, the ideal tillage tool, least passes, pristine seedbed. The combination is elusive. I think there are more proponents of more passes with tools of various depths than there are spader users. I think the Paul is more concerned about engine wear than time, the extra passes with other tools would be at a

more kind RPM.

I will utter an evil word here, rototiller, but Roterra might be better. It is the overuse of the tiller that creates problems I think. Using that only when absolutely necessary, and a chisel/ roller/perfecta mixed tool most other times for primary tillage has been shown to work. Tradeoffs surely abound. Soil structure, microbe disruption, etc. And these would have to be actively countered.... Read More

12/02/16 10:22 AM
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  |  New Family Farm  |  Sebastopol, CA commented

Thanks for the helpful advice, Paul.

Q's:

What other tillage solutions are you referring to exactly? Chisel plow + perfecta type of process? Our scale is so small, we're more worried about passes and tilth than time spent spading.

What's wrong with John Deere?

Rental return M7060 with HST under $30k? We must be thinking of different tractors.

12/01/16 7:26 PM, updated
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  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA commented

Definitely get a Kubota. It will save you time and money on repairs and maintenance. Kubotas also usually have creep gears or something approximating it. Check the Ag Source magazine on line, you should be able to find a rental return tractor somewhere south of Stockton. It will cost you $800 to get it to Sonoma, but it will cost $2000 less than it would in Norcal. I have bought several from Pioneer Equipment, but there are other companies down there too.

There is no reason on earth to buy a new tractor. You can get financing (around 1%) on a rental return with 500-750 hours on it and at your scale, it will probably take you three years to put another 500 hours on it. New tractors are for farmers who are going to use them 24/7/365. A rental return 7060 or something similar will cost you less than $30K.

I know you think you need 13" tires, but you don't really. I have an M9000 with 14.9s in

... Read More
12/01/16 3:29 PM

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