Machinery Pete: A Split Decision

July 26, 2013 10:20 PM
Machinery Pete: A Split Decision

If you ask me what a 16-row planter is worth, I’ll fire right back with my own round of questions. Is it a split-row model? Is it two, five or 10 years old? Is it being sold at auction, by an individual or via dealer? If it’s selling at an auction, is it a farm sale, consignment sale or dealer auction? What state or region are we talking about? Lastly, what time of year is it?

Welcome to my world. For almost 24 years, I’ve been compiling auction sale price data on farm and construction equipment sold in the U.S. and Canada. I work with more than 950 auction firms on a regular basis.

Price variables. The table below is a sampling of the more than 8,700 auction prices for planters at Let’s take a quick look at what a few 16-row used planters have sold for since early 2012.

The type of auction is important because percentage-wise, good used planters tend to sell for a bit more at retirement or estate auctions. In the past year and a half, though, notice how many planters were sold at dealer or consignment auctions.

The trend stems from a couple of forces. First, new equipment sales have been strong for the past eight years. In more recent years, those larger late-model 16- and 24-row used planters have gone back to the dealer as trade-ins and the turn rate off the lot has slowed at times.

It’s not uncommon to see large dealer and consignment auctions feature several 16- and 24-row planters. As you can guess, more planters mean softer sale prices.

On the flip side, the number of farm auctions has dropped 60% from 10 years ago. Couple a nice farm auction, for example, with a super nice used planter and time the sale just before planting, and the 2010 John Deere 1770 16R-30 planter sold at a March 22, 2012, sale in east-central Maryland brings $93,000.

Thanks to IRS Section 179, the fourth quarter for the past 11 years has boasted higher planter prices. At a Dec. 1, 2012, farm auction in north-central Missouri, a 2002 Kinze 3600 16R/31 split-row planter sold for an impressive $70,000.

Since 1989, Greg Peterson has compiled more than 500,000 auction prices, which he updates daily at To read his blog and watch auction videos, visit Contact him at

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