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When is a Garden Tractor a Compact and when is a Compact a Garden Tractor?


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#1 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 10:24 AM

I have 8.9 acres and intend to turn it into a produce farm. It's all one big hill.
The more I research tractors, the more confused I get.
Looking for a small tractor or large Garden Tractor to fix up to do the work.
There is a Tractor Salvage yard about 10 miles away, with quite a few compacts.
Looking at the Kubota line alone I found a lot of models that are less than 2o hp.
Going from 12hp and weights of 800 lbs up. That's garden tractor range but with Category 1 hitches.(older models).
I think there is a vast gray area in the difference between Super Grden Tractors and Compacts.

#2 coldone OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 10:51 AM

The lines have been blurred through the years and there is no clear definition of GT, Super GT, sub CUT, and CUT. If I was looking at 9 acres of garden I think I would be looking for something with Cat 1, implents are plentiful and realativly cheap, and in a weight class of 1000+lbs.
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#3 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 12:56 PM

I certainly do not disagree with what coldone wrote. I've never seen anything written that says this tractor is a sub-CUT but this one is just a garden tractor. The term Super GT would seem to equate to the more modern sub-Cut label. Case referred to their entire line of garden tractors as "Compact Tractors", so I'd say that those titles are interchangeable.

But let's look at your question. You have 9 acres. Presumably, there is a house, driveways and some outbuildings taking up a portion of the property. In addition, you might have a certain amount of groomed lawn that needs cutting. Perhaps you have a bit of a forest or some wetland that further reduces the 9 acres.

I this was my property, I would be making a copy of the survey, because it is already to scale. I would then show where the "produce farm" area is going to go and figure out the total acreage involved. I would then be asking myself what I was going to be growing because those choices will profoundly affect my choices of equipment. As an example: if you decided to grow berries such as strawberries, raspberry's etc, then that would be an area that you would not plow or rototill annually. So, depending on what you intend to grow, how many items you intend to grow and how many times per year you can get a mature crop from the garden, your equipment choice will vary. You also need to look at all the other things you need to do on a property of this size. In truth, I don''t think that you will get away with just one piece of equipment.

Soil conditions matter to a certain degree as well because TIME is precious. If you have heavy clay soil that packs solid from one spring to the next, then a single or double furrow turning plow with 12" shares would quickly open up the garden soil for you every spring. A set of double-disc harrows would chop that freshly plowed earth up and help level it out. A set of drag harrows would complete the leveling. For areas that need more cultivation, then a three-point rotary tiller could look after that or perhaps a good quality rear-tine walk-behind tiller such as Honda or BCS could be used. You will find other uses for a walk-behind tiller for weed control during the growing season. I think that you are wise to look at Kubota but choose one that is diesel, 4 wheel drive, has diff lock, a limited CAT 1 three point, 540 PTO and will accept a front-end loader. FEL's are an indispensable tool . Four wheel drive and diff lock are also necessary. So for sure, you are into sub-CUT to CUT territory but size matters a lot and size will come down to what you grow and how you grow it. Too large a tractor and it becomes an unwieldy witch to get into small areas and to turn around. Too small a tractor and you spend too much time doing the large tasks. No one tractor is truly perfect but some tractors are just more perfect than the others. Only you can figure that out. Good luck.
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#4 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 04:49 PM

coldone, my Ford LGT 165 weights 1000 lbs with me on it and no attachments. I think anything above an acre would need a larger tractor. You could do it with a GT, but would take longer as attachments are smaller.

#5 tractorgarden OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 05:01 PM

:iagree: Now that is some good honest info, From people that know. Good luck, keep us posted.

#6 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 06:21 PM

HYdrive: that was a wellthought out and well writted post! Yes you are right, there is 2.5 acres that is lawn and surounds the house that will be mowed and at least this year there will be about a 2,500 sq ft garden. The rest will be sown to white clover for this year and until I put it into production. My plans are to plant a windbreak along the north boundry.
I'ts a little over 300 ft from the house. There is nothing to stop the wind for 30 miles. It will also help cut down on grainery noise, there is an elevator on my northeast corner.
I'm toying with the idea of planting Australia Willow, then a few rows of Hazel for Hazelnut production. Once established my bee hives would be in that area.
There will definately be many varieties of Berries, Asparugus, and Horseradish(These would be more or less permanent plantings. The rest will likely be strip plantings with clover strips between. Sweet corn, Potatoes and tablefare. Still wide open on decisions. I do know I have to plant the sweetcorn and Popcorn on different ends of the property to prevent cross pollination. The Popcorn is a sentimental thing. my earliest memories of my grandparents is in a popcorn stand built on a 40 Chevy at the Lovilla Iowa Salebarn,
I have a 318 John Deere, and bought a Troybilt Super Bronco today yes it may be small but it will do what the wife wants done this year and a larger companion can be bought later.
I have thought all along a Compact was what I needed and have a year to find one and make it ready. I landed on the Kubota mostly because being one of the first to come to the US there are a lot around.

#7 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted March 19, 2011 - 06:28 PM

Kenny: The first compact I looked at was a Ford 1710 and would have been a good possibility It was a fair looking tractor and they said the motor had been rebuilt. They wanted $3000 for it but it would need new tires and wheels.
The Fluid had eaten them out. The guy at the salvageyard where it was did not seem interested in finding wheels and tires for it.
I still might be interested, but think I'll let him stew in his juices for a while.

#8 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted March 20, 2011 - 06:43 AM

If you are going to strip garden, a good sized GT would probably work. Don't know what all attachments can be had/cost for larger tractors. The LGT 165 I have came with a well used 10" plow and a tiller, so I know it will pull it. Of course, what kind of soil you will be working makes a difference also. You might see if someone with a larger tractor and plow is available to turn the first time. Once you start getting it loosened up, a GT with a tiller might handle it. Mowing the clover and mulching the clippings would be good for the garden areas. I haven't done anything on that large of scale, just some thoughts.

KennyP

#9 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted March 20, 2011 - 10:17 AM

I was talking with my dad yesterday, and we agreed you would need a CUT for the acres you will till. A GT would be nice as well, especially with two and a half acres of grass to mow. Good luck with your farm. We'd like to see your progress.

#10 Reverend Blair OFFLINE  

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Posted March 20, 2011 - 11:32 AM

I always look at the CUT vs GT question as one of design. A CUT is a "real" tractor and therefore uses the engine and transmission as stressed members instead of having a frame. A GT, no matter how stoutly built, has a frame. It's not a 100% definition, but it works for me.

As for which you want for your farm, I'd suggest a CUT with a Cat 1, 3 point hitch, a PTO, and front hydraulics for a loader. Something in the 23 HP range will work, but you'll be way happier with the 30 HP range, especially with the hill.

For implements/attachments, that's going to depend a lot on what you grow and what methods you use. I'd suggest a deep tillage, an FEL, some drag harrows (you can likely find some old spike harrow in the weeds someplace), a good cart/wagon (for strictly on-farm use I like the 4 wheeled ones), a mower (a tow-behind finish mower that runs on a PTO will work), likely a rototiller, and a rear blade or a box blade for maintaining your roads and yard.
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#11 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted March 20, 2011 - 10:09 PM

There is about 5 acres that was in field corn last year. I bought the place in December to replace a home lost to flood.
I have to tear down my old house, this summer, so other than getting the ground. under cover I'll only be doing the Garden work this summer.
My intention this year is to plant that 5 acres to the clover. Then open it up a little at a time as the plans come together.
In the meantime I have a 318 JD and a Yard King(Murray) 22 hp with 52" mower they can handle what I plan to do this year.
I'm about 5 yrs from retirement and intend to have it in full production by then.
So I have a Year or so to find a Compact and have it in top condition.

#12 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted March 22, 2011 - 10:34 AM

If I understand you correctly, your home plus the driveways and garage sit on a 2.5 acre section of the property. Either the 318 or the YK are well-suited to look after the lawn cutting aspect of this area.

A 100 foot long x 25 foot wide garden equals 2500 square feet and if you are planting horseradish and berry plants then the amount of area needing annual tilling or plowing is reduced accordingly. In other words, the Super Bronco is enough to look after the remaining area. Planting the unused acreage in "green manure" is a good idea and the choice of clover is excellent for anyone who is a beekeeper. Clover honey is a prized commodity. You have lots of time to figure out the best size of tractor you will ULTIMATELY need when you reclaim the land you will have in clover. That also gives you lots of time to watch e-bay, craigslist, local auction sales, dealer sales etc for an excellent buy.

While large equipment often seems to be the best choice, there are times when it proves to be just too large and a smaller unit will actually do the job quicker. How your garden is laid out, how much "turn-around" space you have at all four edges of the garden, often dictate the best size of the machine. You also need to think about the best transmission for the bulk of the work you will be performing. If you choose a tractor with a FEL, then a hydrostat or a manual trans with a true shuttle shift is a better choice than a straight manual transmission.

As for that Ford you saw....stay away from it. Those are nice when they are new but I've been told that the parts prices are obscene. They are actually a Shibaura tractor with Ford paint. My son in law has one and he got it with super low hours on it but I am urging him to sell it now before anything goes wrong. I told him it was too small for his 25 acre horse farm when he showed me the listing but he bought it anyway. For sure, it has been an excellent tractor for its size but he found that he could not run a baler. He bought a Kubota that also has a FEL and 4WD but is equipped with an air conditioned cab and 30 more HP. It's a bit larger than the N/H TC45 I suggested he buy but it's still not too large for what he's doing. He will likely get another tractor to pull hay wagons around but invest around 3 grand. I'd like to find him a nice 430 Case with triple-range and a diesel.

Edited by hydriv, March 22, 2011 - 11:03 AM.

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#13 Texas Deere and Horse OFFLINE  

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Posted March 22, 2011 - 10:51 AM

JD, This is my 2 cents worth. I might look for a small farm tractor, being in IA., that should be an easy find and priced very low, compared to a SUB.. I would be looking for a Diesel 25 to HP, Allis, ford, MF, JD., you get the idea. Just make sure that the tractor has live PTO and Hydraulics. I think that you can find all the implements you would need for something in this size machine. These tractors will be a little heavier and more capable to handle to size of acreage you are talking about. You will be able to do other duties with this size tractor, if you want to, like maybe cut and bale hay, or pull a small pull type corn picker. I hope that I haven't confused you, but I would look that way. The maintenance on most of these older tractors is easy and parts are still available. Hope this helps, Brian

You alrady have one of the best Gt's ever built, JD "318" you just need a tiller for seed bed prep work
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#14 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted March 22, 2011 - 06:36 PM

JD, sounds like you are getting lots of sound advice. Good luck with the 'Farm'.

KennyP
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#15 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted March 22, 2011 - 10:05 PM

Thanks HydriveBrian & Kenny: Very helpful. I do have some time to let this all settle out. There are some things I am going to do this year. Since it will take a few years to begin producing, Some of the berries, Apple treess for the orchard will be planted in the 2.5 acres around the house. There is a pocket of about 1/2 acre SE of the house and about 40 ft lower in elevation so it is protected from the North wind that's where Im planting the Dwarf Orchard. What I have to do this year I can get done with what I have.
Brian, I agree and would not be against going with a row crop tractor in the 20-50 Hp range , The 35-45 hp range is required for a baler. And I'm only about 35 miles from Prairie Meadows and there is demand for high quality hay in the area.




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