ATTN FARMERS & AG GUYS: How do you grow grain?

   #1  

Glowplug

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I'm mainly just curious. I really like the way wide open fields of grain look. Gives me a warm feeling of deep American pride. Abdundant amber waves of grain are just beautiful. I know what a grain drill, grain wagon, and auger are by appearance but that's about it. I've seen the big combines that are yards wide, huge, and probably cost $100,000 or more! I'm just curious about the general process. One question I would like specifically addressed is the harvesting. Do you NEED to have one of those mucho expensive machines or are there smaller versions that can be pulled and powered by a PTO on say a 62hp tractor?;) I hope I can get some responses and, who knows, maybe I'll become a small-scale grain farmer!
 
   #2  

Robert_in_NY

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The modern harvesters are in excess of $250k to buy new. They do make harvest easy though when they are tuned well. As for the question, No, you do not need a brand new machine to harvest with. You can buy older units that are a lot smaller and will do a decent job for a smaller acerage farm. As for pull types, they do not make any pull types here anymore. Maybe in China but none that are sold in the US. Even the older pull types required a high horsepowered tractor to run it. Some of the old harvesters from the 50's could be pulled by smaller hp tractors but they are hard to find and get parts for now.

If you are interested in small scale grain farming look for an older Gleaner or John Deere harvester. I have a JD 3300 with a 2 row corn head and 10' grain platform. It does a great job for my size farm and is small enough that I can store it rather easily and transport it from field to field without removing the head. I paid $1k for it and cost me another $1k to have it shipped up here. I put a few dollars in parts in it (maybe $250) but the machine didn't really need them. It was mostly just things I wanted to fix. I harvested 40 acres of oats the first year I had it and got to know the machine rather well. I was suppose to harvest my corn last year but fell and was out of commision for harvest. So now she is all ready to go for corn this fall and I have 40 acres ready to go thru it.

If I was to do it over though I would look for a JD 4400 with a diesel and AC. John Deere has a great parts network for these machines and you can order parts online and have them at your door the next morning to keep you going.
 
   #3  

Robert_in_NY

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I should add, the main advantage of the new modern harvesters over the older units is the speed in which they harvest, the quality of the grain harvested and the ability to really fine tune these machines for the field conditions all from the cab. The disadvantage is that they cost $250k, have a ton of computers and if one of those computers acts up it will give you a $250k headache. The older units from the 70's are great as they do not have any computers unless you put a new MP3 player in place of the old FM radio.
 
   #4  

derekuk101

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Hey Glowplug you can find many nice 1980's John Deere Combines from $8,000 to $20,000. Drane Farm Equipment Hardinsburg, KY specializes in used combines and usually has an ad in fastline. Dad and I raise around 60 acres of grain every year and we are using an old Massey Ferguson 540 combine that my grandfather bought new in 1981. Purchase price- $60,000 today, Id be happy to get $3,000 out of it. Its starting to get hard to find parts for this beast, and we are eventually going to upgrade to one of the John Deere's.
 
  
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Glowplug

Glowplug

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Robert--That JD 3300 is exactly what I had pictured in my mind as perfect if I were to get into the crop.

Derek--Could you post a pic of your MF 540 combine? I'd love to see what it looks like. PS: I just can't get over how much your tractor looks EXACTLY like mine. But yours is bigger.:eek:
 
   #6  

js5020

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Combines,combines,combines!! I spent many hours in such machines,, use to do alot of custom work, like 700 acres+ a year. Started out small with an MF 300, then added an AC E3,, both were fine machines!! the MF was better on the sidehills for less loss out the back,, in my opinion. Got bigger and got me a MF 540 it was almost new,, real nice machine in it's day, first machine I had with auto height control,, real nice for beans. Had me a JD 6600 level land real nice machine,, then an AC L a real beast on the flat ground, worst machine I ever used on the hills. The best machine I ever operated a JD 7720 late model, what a machine! Course I'm sure there have been many improvements since I quit years ago. A JD combine is probably the best supported parts wise,,, and that's what counts when your broke down. THe 2 row machines could always be had real cheap and for 50 acres of a crop would be adequate size and usually in my parts of the country in the day were not worn out,,, the 4 row machines were always pricey and when they were sold/traded the were used hard,, very hard. The big machines just to much for small acreage,, I could cut 50 acres of beans a day with the big ones and when they broke you better have a big wallet! Blew an engine once in the L,, totally trashed, the block alone at the time was 8k, ended up getting a complete take out engine 3500 and that was cheap at the time. Oh the memories,,,, the round the clock runs,, the fixing in the rain, dark, cold, snow,,,,,, I'm so glad I quit long ago!!!
 
   #7  

Farmwithjunk

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Where do I begin.....
Glowplug said:
I'm mainly just curious. I really like the way wide open fields of grain look. Gives me a warm feeling of deep American pride. Abdundant amber waves of grain are just beautiful. I know what a grain drill, grain wagon, and auger are by appearance but that's about it. I've seen the big combines that are yards wide, huge, and probably cost $100,000 or more! I'm just curious about the general process. One question I would like specifically addressed is the harvesting. Do you NEED to have one of those mucho expensive machines or are there smaller versions that can be pulled and powered by a PTO on say a 62hp tractor?;) I hope I can get some responses and, who knows, maybe I'll become a small-scale grain farmer!

Whew! Where do we start?


There are combines on the market nowdays that'll bust up a half million dollar bill by the time you get the right grain header/corn head to complete the job. I sorta doubt you'll be shopping for one of those.

Older combines can be had cheap. I started off with a Massey 300, 13' grain head, and a 2-row corn head. Back in 1982, I bought a used Deere 4400 with 4-row corn head and a 13' grain head (1971 model). That one saw me to the end of my farming days. I sold the 4400 to a friend. He just sold it again last winter. W/ both heads it brought $2500.

There were quite a few decent pull-type combines, but they're getting scarce. A neighbor still does approx 100 acres of soybeans with an old Deere #30 pull-type. It's slow going. I don't recall the exact width it cuts, but I'm thinking something like 5' or 6'.

Buy an old combine and be prepared to spend a LOT of time spinning wrenches. Plus, the learning curve is going to be rather abrupt.

If I was going to get into small scale grain farming, I'd look around and find someone in the area who does custom harvesting.
 
   #8  

bigtiller

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I thought about farming my little spot in this world but decided it is way easier to rent it out. When the guy comes to farm it he brings in a 56' cultivator, 24 row planter, 12 row corn head or 30' bean head on a big combine, and one of those big 4 wheel drive tractors with 8 tires on it with a chisel plow plus various other row crop tractors, wagons and a semi truck and trailer. They can cultivate my 30 acres and plant in less than 2 hours, and about the same for harvesting the crop. The best part is I can ride along anytime I want and this guy seldom has a piece of equipment older than 5 years. It is really something to sit back and watch half a million bucks worth of equipment work my field in the fall and knowing they are going to pay me for it.
 
   #9  

CornbeltKid

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If you were going to grow small grains you could bale it. A lot of grain might get wasted but it could still make good feed as balage. Especially if you grow some other hay crop with it or alfalfa or red clover. I've never tried it but, I've read about it.
 
   #10  

JoeinTX

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The actual process of growing wheat/oats is not that hard at all.

For example, here in my part of the world, along about October and into November you prep the land and sow it and then wait until May-June to cut it. Prepping the land is simple: one pass chisel.....one pass disc....one pass with grain drill. Some, if the field preps well and is pretty tame, will combine the discing and drilling in one pass. For sowing the best low cost approach is just the standard end-wheel drill which still does a good job today. I'm partial to J.D. here since they seem to have figured the concept out earlier and clearer than most others and because we still use one today and it's darn near bulletproof even if 50 years old.



"Buy an old combine and be prepared to spend a LOT of time spinning wrenches. Plus, the learning curve is going to be rather abrupt....."


As for cutting it, old combines are cheap but many are a mechanic's nightmare. There are untold numbers of belts, pulleys, bearings, gears, chains, and maintenance points on those things. Fire is a constant danger due to the heat the machine produces, the friction of its various moving parts, and the flamable nature of the dry plant growth and its dust. Many people do fine with them if they know about them and don't mind the time and effort. If I was just starting out I'd look to hire it done to see if it was even going to be a worthy proposition to raise the stuff.
 
 
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