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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    10
    Location
    Moneta, Virginia
    Tractor
    New Holland TC40DA

    Default What size tractor do I need?

    I have not purchased a tractor before. I have 55 acres of gently sloping land with mostly 8 year old loblolly pine trees in Virginia. I need to do some road maintenance, rotary cutting between the trees, some grass planting, and some post hole digging. I am looking at "compact" utility tractors in the 20 to 30 horsepower range. I will not be doing any mowing of large areas. What size (horsepower) would be sufficient or desirable? Is the extra money spent on more horsepower worth it long term? I know I need a front loader and rotary cutter initially. thanks, GKT

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Varmintmist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    794
    Location
    Chicora, PA
    Tractor
    Mahindra3510

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    You probably want to run a 5 foot brushog at a minimum so figure 25 hp absolute minimum.

    If you are staying between trees you want to keep the wheelbase as small as reasonably possible if the trees are close. That is keep the machine size down so you can manuver between. If there is some room then more wheelbase is better.

    When you say planting grass, what are we talking? A patch of woods that needs clearing? A old clear cut? A old hayfield? Whichever you have will determine a different approach to making it grow. Also what you want as a end result makes a difference. You can go from "I just want it green" to "I want to be albe to putt 300 yards" (I fall into the first catagory [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img])

    If it is a field then you will need to use at a minimum a harrow of some type, that will be sized to your machine, along with a landscape rake and a drag (make that). The landscape rake can be omitted if the patch isnt real big and you are willing to rake it by hand. If it is really boogered up then you might have to plow first.

    Anyway, what matters to you right now is getting enough tractor to do the work, but not to much that it cant be used. Put it this way. A smaller tractor can do the work, but it will not be as fast. A bigger tractor will be faster, but is not as good in tight spots.

    A decent 30HP'ish machine will do what you want. A few more HP can be had without getting a lot bigger and more HP is mostly more desireable because you can pull bigger things, and your loader is going to be rated higher for the most part, but not in every case.

    Go tire kicking. Look at the different machines. Ask the dealers what it will pull and what they reccomend. That will give you a few things. A idea of what implements and HP the dealers reccomend, a feel for the dealers. If the guy selling Pink tractors says you need to buy a 50HP 40,000 tractor and all the others say 30-35 will do you, avoid the Pink tractor dealer.

  3. #3
    Super Member Bob_Skurka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    7,503

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    I am a small tractor fan, and think that most people buy tractors that are too large for their needs. But in your case I think you might be aiming a bit low. I would suggest nothing under a 30 hp tractor. The advantage to going up in size is that you will get greater PTO hp and the rotary cutter you will be using needs plenty of PTO hp. With a 20hp tractor you will be able to use a 4' rotary cutter. With a 30hp tractor you will be able to use a 5' rotary cutter. With a 35-to-40hp tractor, you will be able to use a 6' rotary cutter. So going up from a 20hp tractor to a 35hp tractor will increase the size of your rotary cutter, which will save you a lot of hours of cutting over the next dozen years!

    A similar thing is going to happen with the road maintainence you refer to. I have a 24hp New Holland and it is a great little tractor, but it really is limited to a 4' box blade on any compacted soil. Go up to a 30hp tractor and you can get a 5' box blade. Go up a bit more in size and you can get a 6' box blade.

    There is certainly a point where you can get too large. But I think you might want to look at nothing smaller than a NH TC33 or Case DX33 (Case-New Holland makes both, same tractor, different color) as the small end of the scale and look from there up. kubota makes the L3430. John Deere, Massey, Branson, Mahindra all make tractors in the 35 to 40hp range. Kioti makes the DK35 (which is also available from Cub Cadet). Start looking at these and go up from there. For me, I'd want about 40hp and a hydrostatic transmission for using the rotary cutter between the trees. I like HST for cutting and for loader work, it saves time and is well suited to mowing and loader work. A gear machine will save you money and get the job done too. But over the life of the tractor, the $1000 added cost of the HST works out to about $50 a year, I'm willing to pay for the added ease it provides.

    As for tractor types, the road grading work would favor a heavier tractor, the rotary cutter works with pretty much any machine. All the tractors in the 33 to 40 hp range are pretty heavy machines to begin with so find the one that feels good to your rear end. And buy it from a dealer who makes you feel comfortable . . . comfortable that they have a large enough parts department . . . comfortable that they have a well trained service team . . . and comfortable that they will continue to treat you well.


  4. #4
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    908
    Location
    SE Ohio, Meigs County
    Tractor
    Kubota L3010HST R4's, Scag Wildcat ZTR, 61

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    I have 50 acres much like yours. I would suggest a kubota L3130. Awesome tractor for the chores you mention. It can handle a 5' bush hog with ease. You'll want a 6' Box Blade for your trails I'd guess (thats what I use), and the FEL will be used every time your on the tractor. This size is bigger than Kubota's B series. Heavier, and that works to my benifit.
    Do yourself a favor and drive the Kubota L3130 and the Deere and NH counterparts. If you have a Kioti dealer close by try those to. I think hydrostat is worth the extra cost, but you'll have to try it and see if you like it.
    I sure would not go any smaller than a 30hp.

    Hope this helps,
    Moon of Ohio

  5. #5
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    3,044
    Location
    Windham County, Conn
    Tractor
    Ford 2120 , New Holland TN75D, Hitachi UH083LC Excavator

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    If it were me I would be looking in the 40 to 45 hp range. That is definately not too big. I run a 43hp and a 75hp on a piece of land which even though 76 acres, I only maintain about 40. There are so many tasks that I just couldn't do when I ran a 27 hp tractor. Just too small and light. You milage may vary as perhaps you don't have the rocks and stumps we have to deal with here in New England. A 30 hp TN30 class machine just wouldn't do it efficiently. Is your land mostly sandy material with out major rocks? If so then 30 would be ok.

    Again just my thoughts. Good luck in your decision.

    Andy

  6. #6
    Silver Member RickO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    231
    Location
    Central, Ohio
    Tractor
    Kubota G1900

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    Everything you have listed as wanting to do, can be handled by a 30Hp tractor. However, if you value your time get a 35HP or 40HP so, as Bob said, you could run a bigger cutter if you want and won't wear your tractor out as quickly.

  7. #7
    Super Member
    Rest in Peace
    frank_f15's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    6,033
    Location
    BUFFALO ,NEW YORK AREA
    Tractor
    kubota b2400- R4 tires

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    i WILL JUST REINFORCE WHAT SOME OF THE OTHER MEMBERS SAID. i think you need to go a bit above a cut. but you can do what you want but with nothing less than 30 hp that is just my 2 cents worth

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    579
    Location
    California , Idaho and a little island in Panama
    Tractor
    Kioti DK45TLB

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    I started out thinking I needed about 30 horses in a tractor ,for my 45 acres . After posting a"help wanted sign" here on TBN ,the "good old boys of TBN" helpped me decide to look at 45 horsepower . I am SOOooooo glad I took their advice !! I can't imagine using anything smaller than the DK45 Kioti I have now . In my case , bigger was better . I enjoy my tractor ,but the larger horse power lets me get things done quicker and I can get on down the road and enjoy life a little more .
    Big Al

  9. #9
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    155
    Location
    SF bay area
    Tractor
    3130 GST/ CAT D-2

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    Mr Skurka pretty much said it all. I have 7 acres and a kubota 3130Gst most of the time it spends is in two and a half acres. I have yet to find it to big. the more pto horse power the bigger the implement, the less time it takes. bigger tractor, bigger implements = bigger wallet. when the needs and the wallet come together you found the right tractor
    Good luck!
    W.W

  10. #10
    Epic Contributor Soundguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    46,366
    Location
    Central florida
    Tractor
    ym1700, NH7610S, Ford 8N, 2N, NAA, 660, 850 x2, 541, 950, 951, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4600, 5000, 740, IH 'C' 'H', CUB, John Deere 'B', allis 'G', case VAC

    Default Re: What size tractor do I need?

    I agree with many of the others. 25-3X hp.. that puts you into the 5' rotary cutters easy.. perhaps 6' for lighter cutting.. however I'm thinking 5' for tree clearance. If you want a FEL deffinately get power steering, and consider 4wd ( especially if you have steep hills ), and HST is you plan to do alot of FEL work. I don't do alot of FEL work.. but those that do say that HST or some sort of reverser or shuttle is the cats meow over gear. If you are going to use the FEL onle for odd jobs.. gear will be fine.. and save you some cash. I'm more familiar with ford.. so my suggestion would be for tc29d, tc30 ( economy ) or tc33d.

    Any 'big 3' would also be fine.. Deer and kubota make great units. For that matter MF is great, and I wouldn't be scared of Mahindra, Kioti, or Agco.

    After that you get into 3rd brands.. like branson, Jinma (and other asains.. like Kama.. etc.. ) , eicher and many more.

    You can also consider used domestic, or used grey market ( shibarau, Yanmar..etc. ). If you aren't wrench, I'd stay away from the new chineese, or used grey, and very old used domestic. New-ish domestics.. that is those only a couple years old me be your best value, while still very safe dealer-wise, and parts/service.

    Soundguy

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