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  1. #71
    Super Member AKfish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    ?

    Sent from my Motorola Smartphone w/ TractorByNet for Android
    It's all in the way you look at things...

    Good friend that I worked with for many years after he retired (his wife was a teacher, too) they moved to Oregon and bought an 80 acre farm. Raised a few head of cattle, couple of horses and hay, mostly. Then they got into grapes and wine making!

    Over time they grew into 10 acres of vines and thru the local growers association (likely statewide, too) they started bottling their own and also selling/trading their grapes. Alot of hard work and tribulations!

    They hosted wine tasting's and a year or so ago some folk's from California dropped in and offered them $1.5 million - on the spot! They declined but have since sold out after listing their place for $2.5M. Don't know the final sale price - but they have a sailboat (live aboard) in Vancouver, BC.; now.

    AKfish
    "Most people want to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."

  2. #72
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
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    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    Thanks for the Info fellas.... DFB, great post. Everything you said made a lot of sense.

    Sent from my Motorola Photon using TractorByNet for Android
    Grapes aren't that difficult or time consuming IMHO. I only have 12 vines on two 45-ft long trellises (California Concord) but I probably spend less than 10 hours tending them each season. The trellis is the vertical shoot positioning (VSP) type. I do a little weeding in March to tidy up the vineyard and put a little 10-10-10 fertilizer around each vine being careful to keep it from touching the plant. I use double cane pruning in Feb and late April (cut the canes to 5 nodes in Feb and then down to 2 nodes in April and cut out excess canes to leave about 6" between canes). I leaf prune in late May/early June to get a nice canopy (the bunches need partial shade or else they get sunburned). Then in early July I bunch prune to thin out the grapes to two or three bunches per cane. Irrigation is by driplines. Grapes ripen in Aug. Those twelve vines yielded about 25 lb of grapes last season--table grapes, I'm not into wine making. Not too bad considering that I'm in the torrid North Sacramento Valley where we have triple digit temps from Jun thru Sept. This isn't exactly top notch grape country around here (we do orchard crops--almonds, olives, English walnuts, prune plums, mandarin oranges, pistachios).

    Good luck with your farming endeavors.

  3. #73
    Gold Member SanDucerro's Avatar
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    Kubota M7040 - L3130 - ZD326S

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    Is there a cost/bottle analysis that you've worked out to determine what each bottle costs you to produce, and then, profit?
    Yes. I have an Excel spreadsheet I created that has 8 interconnecting pages dealing with all facets of our operation. Everything from staff salaries to insurance to winery equipment - and then some. It is our business plan and includes private information on loans and other items - as such I can't share. I don't mind answering questions or sharing thoughts, just can't let the business plan out of the house - hope you understand.

    To address your questions though - bottles run $2.05 and then you need to add corks and tin foil for sealing (estimate $0.36 on those). That's the easy part. The hard part is the cost of production which includes the wine making equipment. You could create bottles of wine for under a grand in equipment - but EVERYTHING will be manual. So - unless you plan to bottle out of glass jars (carboys), expect to spend about $25k in equipment to outfit a small operation. Bump that number to $40k for a mid size setup with a bit of room to grow. A full blown operation will easily exceed $100k. And, the bigger you get the more room you need and then temperature control becomes relevant - you'll need to keep everything cool so add in for A/C equipment and tanks with coolers... And don't forget that the vineyard has its own costs. I spent over $5k today on trellis post alone - and that was just for year one's 1400 vines. I still need to buy wire and a few other items, so my cost will go up a bit more. Not to mention I'll need another wad of "trellis" cash for the planned expansion in year two.

    As for profit... What profit? I told you at the first not to go here! Actually, "true" profit is right at 11% from the winery operations. But that's holding costs down and doing a lot of the work ourselves (very small staff). However - keep in mind the grapes produce NOTHING in years 1 and 2 and a very small crop in year 3. Red wine needs to age a year, so that means the crappy harvest you get in year 3 isn't going to give you any red to sell until year 4. Your ROI on a winery doesn't hit "break even" for several YEARS after you have grapes, so expect to pour money in with no return until year 7 or later. In other words - you better be in for the long haul. There are better ways to make money that involve far less risk and quicker ROI. Think long and hard before you commit.
    Keith

    Kubota M7040 Kubota L3130

    San Ducerro Vineyards Yoakum, TX

  4. #74
    Elite Member TSO's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanDucerro View Post
    Yes. I have an Excel spreadsheet I created that has 8 interconnecting pages dealing with all facets of our operation. Everything from staff salaries to insurance to winery equipment - and then some. It is our business plan and includes private information on loans and other items - as such I can't share. I don't mind answering questions or sharing thoughts, just can't let the business plan out of the house - hope you understand.

    To address your questions though - bottles run $2.05 and then you need to add corks and tin foil for sealing (estimate $0.36 on those). That's the easy part. The hard part is the cost of production which includes the wine making equipment. You could create bottles of wine for under a grand in equipment - but EVERYTHING will be manual. So - unless you plan to bottle out of glass jars (carboys), expect to spend about $25k in equipment to outfit a small operation. Bump that number to $40k for a mid size setup with a bit of room to grow. A full blown operation will easily exceed $100k. And, the bigger you get the more room you need and then temperature control becomes relevant - you'll need to keep everything cool so add in for A/C equipment and tanks with coolers... And don't forget that the vineyard has its own costs. I spent over $5k today on trellis post alone - and that was just for year one's 1400 vines. I still need to buy wire and a few other items, so my cost will go up a bit more. Not to mention I'll need another wad of "trellis" cash for the planned expansion in year two.

    As for profit... What profit? I told you at the first not to go here! Actually, "true" profit is right at 11% from the winery operations. But that's holding costs down and doing a lot of the work ourselves (very small staff). However - keep in mind the grapes produce NOTHING in years 1 and 2 and a very small crop in year 3. Red wine needs to age a year, so that means the crappy harvest you get in year 3 isn't going to give you any red to sell until year 4. Your ROI on a winery doesn't hit "break even" for several YEARS after you have grapes, so expect to pour money in with no return until year 7 or later. In other words - you better be in for the long haul. There are better ways to make money that involve far less risk and quicker ROI. Think long and hard before you commit.
    That's great that you have all of that information prepared, the question was for you, not for me... I don't expect to make a profitable business out of it, or at least, not anytime soon. I will do everything manually, using my own carboys and bottles. If I can make a couple 100 bottles each year I would be happy. I have a full time career, and I'm still in my early thirties, so I definitely have the time to invest in this venture. I will likely retire around 50 and thus will have time to begin a second career, which will be on my own terms... If America is still here, of course.

    I enjoy a challenge and I like to learn, so for me the process is as much important as the result. It sounds like your operation is professional from the ground up... Mine will start out as a personal experience and if it ever reaches a point where it could spawn something professional, and that is a benefit.

    I know that I can handle the pumpkins and the Christmas trees. The blueberries will be more of a challenge, and the grapes even more so.

    What is life without a challenge?

    Sent from my Motorola Smartphone w/ TractorByNet for Android
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  5. #75
    Bronze Member
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    I've enjoyed reading this thread and want to add a twist. I'm in a similar situation to TSO. Ive bought a house with 147 acres, 9ish are in grass already. Aother 30ish acres had corn on it a few years ago. Northern Michigan. The tractor is already here. With about 40 acres of hay, 40 bales an acre, $5 a pop, i could be looking at ~$8000 a year in hay along with being able to depreciate the tractor and save on property taxes. There's lots of horse people in the area as well as cattle to consme the hay.

    At this size, have i passed into being big enoug to be able to turn a buck. I've got the day job to pay the bills, this would just be something extra to pay for some hobbies and keep me out of trouble.

    Ive looked into grapes and decided against them. There's potential for a high return, but the grapes need heavy labor at times when i wont be able to give it. Local vintners are clamoring for juice. Lots of christmas trees are already in the ground in the neighborhood, so i wouldnt want to go there, but, i have considered planting the open space for pulpwood.

    Thanks, and apologies if this borders on a threadjacking.

  6. #76
    Bronze Member
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    I've enjoyed reading this thread and want to add a twist. I'm in a similar situation to TSO. Ive bought a house with 147 acres, 9ish are in grass already. Aother 30ish acres had corn on it a few years ago. Northern Michigan. The tractor is already here. With about 40 acres of hay, 40 bales an acre, $5 a pop, i could be looking at ~$8000 a year in hay along with being able to depreciate the tractor and save on property taxes. There's lots of horse people in the area as well as cattle to consme the hay.

    At this size, have i passed into being big enoug to be able to turn a buck. I've got the day job to pay the bills, this would just be something extra to pay for some hobbies and keep me out of trouble.

    Ive looked into grapes and decided against them. There's potential for a high return, but the grapes need heavy labor at times when i wont be able to give it. Local vintners are clamoring for juice. Lots of christmas trees are already in the ground in the neighborhood, so i wouldnt want to go there, but, i have considered planting the open space for pulpwood.

    Thanks, and apologies if this borders on a threadjacking.

  7. #77
    Elite Member vtsnowedin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    You can't hold a day job and put in good hay at the same time unless you have a fully capable crew back at home. Otherwise you will be at work when the baleing needs to be done and your hay will get rained on before you get home from work.

  8. #78
    Super Star Member
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by vtsnowedin View Post
    You can't hold a day job and put in good hay at the same time unless you have a fully capable crew back at home. Otherwise you will be at work when the baleing needs to be done and your hay will get rained on before you get home from work.
    We try to cut on Wednesday, Thursday or 2-3 days before a holiday whenever the weather permits, that allows us to bale on Friday afternoon, Saturday or the holiday. If it comes down to it, we can to do hay during the week because my wife or father in law can do the last tedding, then roll the hay into windrows while I am at work. I take off at 3 or so, then we bale as soon as I can get the baler hooked up and we stack after that. We generally cut one field at a time which works out to 3-400 small square bales for the first cutting and 150-300 per field for the second.

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

  9. #79
    Elite Member TSO's Avatar
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    I've definitely learned alot from everyone that posted here, and I appreciate all the feedback. From talking with y'all, it really seems like doing 6 acres of hay would not be worth it, which is a shame because I think I'd really enjoy it. But, I think the others.... The pumpkins, berries, grapes, trees... Will be an interesting challenge too so I will find solace in trying that.

    To my "up north" brother, I'm jealous that you have enough property to actually have a tougher decision than me... You can probably justify doing hay, and from the people I've talked to, your estimate of 50 bales per acre is very modest.

    I've thought about doing trees also (you mentioned pulpwood) but considered using them as a "30 yrs from now" investment, growing hardwoods for timber, and selling off the tops as firewood.

    I sold 40 good sized oaks when I originally bought the property, there's good money in it if you broker it properly.

    Just a long, long, long return...

    Sent from my Motorola Smartphone w/ TractorByNet for Android
    Massey 1652 HST Cab
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  10. #80
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Vtsnowedin... I'm luck tha my "day job" is solid and very flexible in the summer. If i need a week to do something, i can take it. Dont have tha luxury the rest of the year when grapes would need to be harvested, trimmed, etc.

    TSO... The soil here isnt the best (pretty sandy) and the season can be short... I'd hope for more bales per acre, but prefer to be conservative before i commit gobs of capital. Like you, I think it wold be rewarding to do. I'd love to be able to plant maple, oak, etc, bit i dont think id live to see the day that they would reapcommercial gain. If only we could live to a hundred!

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