Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP)

   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #1  
Jun 24, 2024
Midwest, USA
Ford 860
I have reached the stage of overanalysis paralysis. Please help me out.

Background info:

- 20 acres where I live (flat and ~90% wooded)
- 120 acres "up north" (Flat to rolling but there are ravines ~97% wooded)


- Lifting and moving logs and brush as I clear more space for plantings. (Both locations)
- brush hogging trails and clearings 2-3 times a year (up north)
- food plot/garden prep from meadow/sod (both locations)
- drainage work on trails (up north, will probably rent mini-ex for this)


-Weight must be <5400lbs for me to tow with my truck/trailer combo.
- Budget is flexible but I want to be sensible

Currently considering (all hst with loader):

-Used low hour Kubota 2501, 3901 (19-27k)
-New bobcat 2025 (bobcat is the only dealer nearby up north, with 3rd function, 21.6k)
-used low hour kioti ck2610 (with 3rd function and dual rear remotes) 19k
-New kioti ck3520se (with 3rd function+ dual rear remotes) 28.5 cash, 31k financed

I have a 6.5-7 foot flail mower that I used to run on a Ford 860. It would save me a purchase if my new machine has the HP for it, but I'm nervous about emissions/computerized stuff and not sure if I should be. I also don't have the facilities to do a lot of mechanic work on an older pre emissions machine.

If you're still reading by now chip in a comment. Any feedback is appreciated!
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   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #2  
I'm nervous about emissions/computerized stuff and not sure if I should be.
The vast majority of Tier IV tractors between 25 and 75hp have no problems with their emissions systems. There's been a few bad models like the Kubota B3350 and some makes like LS where some units seem to do regens really often but mostly they work fine.

Operating in cold weather and idling a lot can make a DPF based system need to regen more often.

Below 75hp no one uses DEF like in pickup trucks, so that's one system that won't be causing problems.
   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #3  
Yanmar YT235
   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #4  

The fundamental importance of TRACTOR WEIGHT eludes many tractor shoppers. Tractor capability is more closely correlated to tractor weight than any other single (1) specification.

The most efficient way to shop for tractors is to first identify potential tractor applications, then, through consulataton, establish bare tractor weight necessary to safely accomplish your applications. Tractor dealers, experienced tractor owners and are sources for weight recommendations.

Sufficient tractor weight is more important for most tractor applications than increased tractor horsepower. Bare tractor weight is a tractor specification easily found in sales brochures and web sites, readily comparable across tractor brands and tractor models, new and used.

Shop your weight range within tractor brands. Budget will eliminate some choices. Collect a dealer brochure for each tractor model in your weight range. I spreadsheet tractor and implement specs, often a revealing exercise. I have a column for cost per pound.

Most tractors under 3,000 pounds bare weight operate in residential or hobby farm applications on one to ten flat acres.

Selling a used tractor is easy. Selling multiple light implements in order to buy heavier, wider implements for a new, heavier tractor requires a lot of time. Depreciation on implements is worse than depreciation on a tractor.

When considering a tractor purchase bare tractor weight first, tractor horsepower second, rear axle width third, rear wheel/tire ballast fourth.

A quality dealer, reasonably close, available for coaching, is important for tractor neophytes. Most new tractors are delivered with a glitch or two requiring correction. My Kubota dealer is six miles away. I feel my local dealer continues to add value to my equipment after nine years. Dealer proximity is less important for those experienced with tractors and qualified to perform their own maintenance.

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   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #5  
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   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #6  
My pick out of the tractors under consideration would be the Kubota L3901. It's a solid, no frills tractor that enjoys a good reputation. It's also capable of handling the tasks mentioned, as well as running the 7' flail under reasonable conditions.
   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP)
  • Thread Starter
I assume this purchase will be your first tractor.

I recommend a tractor with a bare weight of 3,700 to 4,000 pounds. Tractors of this weight will mostly have a width of 66" which will provide a much more stable platform than lighter, narrower models.


Thanks. This will be my second tractor after the Ford 860, which is a nice machine but can't do loader work. It's currently down with hydraulic issues that are going to take me some time to figure out how to fix (which is why I don't need another project tractor).

I don't doubt that additional weight/width is desirable. Unfortunately I am limited by my towing capacity and all of the tractors I listed will top out near it with loaders, loaded tires, and an implement/weight box. I suppose I might be able to trailer a heavier one without a rear implement. It's a long drive though (9 hours) and I don't want to push it.
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   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #9  
I wouldn’t worry at all about the emissions. For the most part the DPF systems work just fine. You do occasionally hear about a bad apple here and there, but the same can be said about any mechanical system.
   / Help me pick a tractor (25-45 HP) #10  
My impression is the work you are describing is better suited for a larger tractor: Kubota MX or M or equivalent other colors. I know you are weight limited with your current tow vehicle and trailer, but it still seems to me that a heavier machine would be safer and suit you better. Something in the 50+ hp range.