The Economics of Two Combines

The Economics of Two Combines

We weigh costs and calculate the benefits, including a shorter harvest season

Over the last two weeks, dad and I have been debating the merits of a second combine. I think we are both in agreement that a second machine would shorten the harvest season.

I don't believe we need to run two machines all the time. We certainly don't have the man power. At the minimum we would need two more truck drivers and likely another grain cart.

To buy or rent? We debate which route to take on a second combine. (file photo)

Instead, our objective with the second machine would be to gain the ability to run corn in the mornings on days when the flagship machine is tasked to soybeans. If we could gain 3-6 hours of corn, through the course of soybean harvest, we would have in essence snuck in a week's worth of corn or more. Last year there were several days the combine sat until 2 p.m. waiting for beans to dry down.

The discussion generally focuses on the best way to secure a second machine. There are a couple different routes to go. We have both come to the conclusion that whatever the machine is, it must be capable of using the corn head and draper we already own without modifications. That limits us to two brand choices. I don't think it has to be as large as our main machine, but we wouldn't want to go too much smaller as this would also be a backup in case of breakdown.

The two choices are to rent or purchase. Generally, dad has been a proponent of renting the machine from the local dealer. Advantages here include a late model machine, no repairs, no storage, etc. The part I have a hard time stomaching is the $200 per engine hour rate with the preference of a 100-hour minimum. This is why I lean toward purchasing a 5-8 year old machine.

Dealers want to move their inventory right now, fearful that the commodity price decline will spill over into equipment. There are some good deals out there, and some promotions even include a 5-year interest waiver. I'm pretty sure we can find something good for the same money we would spend on a rental.

I hope we get this resolved quickly, as we are going to start harvest today or tomorrow with some 2.4 to 2.5 maturity soybeans.

For your enjoyment, I'll leave you with the email thread of a combine that my dad checked on. See if anything sounds out of place to you!

The listing read something like this:  XYZ Combine, 1300 hours, duals.                           

The ad description repeated the same information with no additional details other than a few photos.

Dad: I see you've got a combine advertised online. Give me a full list of the items and options on the combine. Are you a dealer, or is this your personal combine? Looking for a second combine, but it must be in excellent condition, and we would consider sending a mechanic over to do an inspection.

Response: It is still listed on website. Privately owned. Downsizing.

Dad: Need the requested info, hours, options, etc.

Response: See previous email.

(In the mean time I did a Google search for the serial number listed in the ad. I was hoping to find some specs on the machine; instead, it showed up as being run through an auction this summer. It doesn't appear things are adding up...)

Dad: Not enough info, we'll pass. How can you try to sell something without knowing what it is?

Response: Thank you for your inquiry. I don't know what more I can say. We have been in equipment sales for over 30 years. Successfully. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Dad (with the revealed discrepancy, he couldn't let this one go!): Well, if you have been successful in the equipment business for 30 years, although your email indicated you were downsizing, you might recall that things that are important to a combine buyer are: year, engine and separation hours, tire sizes and percentages of wear, length and diameter of unload auger, whether it has an adjustable side to side feeder house, what type of grain tank extension it may have, and etc. Not to mention the interior of the combine or chopper.

Upon a quick internet search, my son found that the combine was apparently recently on Company A's sale.

Hope this info is helpful. We are serious buyers and have bought many items over the phone and internet, and the ones who get our business are the ones who present the equipment to the best of their ability and are honest about it.

Response: I receive several inquiries daily. Your original request was for some information that was posted online already. At that point I can only assume that you have not seriously read the description. The harvest and planting equipment I have listed is our personal stock. The machine is 10 years old. Excellent condition is one without any defects or flaws. The machine is in good condition as one of that age and corresponding hours. We will not nor never have misrepresented a piece of equipment. We have sold locally and internationally, and have many satisfied and return customers. Our business philosophy has always been to price our equipment at a fair market value.

I have no idea what Company A has to do with your inquiry.

I am sorry you were offended by my responses.  There are 177 listings for XYZ combines online, several from XYZ dealers. They are offering excellent deals on used equipment many with a warranty and financing.

And with that, we had another chuckle and let it go. It's always nice to get some humor during a stressful time of year!

I did find it interesting that today, not one day after the last response, the machine we were talking about is no longer listed online. Hmm…

The opinions of Kyle Stackhouse are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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