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Hello, I would like some advice on purchasing a second row crop cultivating tractor. I currently have 80 acres of organic I row cultivate and am adding another 80 acres next year. I started off using my dads b-414 and I ran 4 row 38”. I switched to 6-30” and bought a 5120 maxxum. I was never very good with that tractor cultivating the visibility for cultivating is poor. I bought a 686 2 years ago and man what a difference. I really like the 686 I thought about just looking for another one but once in awhile it would be nice to have a slightly bigger tractor on heavier cultivators . What would you guys suggest? I need open station and would consider anything from the 06-86 series. I have been curious about a 756 or 856. 
thanks Nick 

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My grandad decided to go organic when I was in young.  I took a break from the family farm and worked for another organic farmer for a year.  Grandad had 250 acres all organic, and the other guy had a

J-mech, thanks for all the info. This is my 8th year being certified. I work for a larger farmer that helped me get started. They farm around 2,000 acres conventionally. I farm my organic on the side.

Ooooo... cultivating.    I still cultivate my corn...and put on sidedress at the same time.   I can tell you from experience that an 806 needs a full rack of weights to lift a 8 row Glencoe C sha

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My grandad decided to go organic when I was in young.  I took a break from the family farm and worked for another organic farmer for a year.  Grandad had 250 acres all organic, and the other guy had at least 300, maybe more.  I've cultivated so much, thinking about cultivating makes me shiver.  I've ran IH cultivators set up 10 different ways from Sunday.  Row unit cut-away discs (hiller disc's they are sometimes called) set up to pull away from the row, shank row units, long spread to the rear shovel, short spread, rolling guards, without guards, vibra-shank, trip shovel.... list goes on and on.  Then there are Lilliston rolling cultivators, Buffalo cultivators.... *sigh* (Getting shivers thinking about it.)  Anyway.... the heaviest cultivator I ever picked up was an 8 row Buffalo.  12 row IH is probably close to the same weight.  Unless you are running a Buffalo, and even then, a 686 size should handle pretty much any 6 row mounted cultivator with ease.  I've cultivated with 56, 66, 86 series tractors and used Magnums and Maxxum for things like side dressing.  I admit, an open station does make seeing much easier, and for even 160 acres, you aren't talking very many days of cultivating.

In my opinion, the 56 series is probably one of the best series of IH tractors ever made.  The hoods are narrow and makes seeing the row easy.  I spent thousands of hours on an 856 and would recommend that tractor.  Very good choice, especially if it has tilt steering.  Personally I'd rather have the 407 vs the German diesel in the 756, even though that is a good engine. I didn't like the 66 series for cultivating that much because the wider hood wasn't as easy to see around as the 56 series.  86 series tractors are terrible for cultivating if you need to see the cultivator.  Can't see good enough out the back window.  You think you hated the 5120, at least it has a lower window behind the seat. 

My suggestion is a MX Maxxum tbh.  That's where I'd spend money. If you get a cab, it's easy to see out of.  Open station is good too.  I'm just getting to the point I don't like dealing with the aggrivation of keeping 50 year old tractors alive and in constant use.  They're worn out.  Nearly impossible to find a non wore out 856 now, and if you do it has new rubber, new paint and someone has already rebuilt the whole machine.  Then, it costs as much as you can buy an MX100 for that is (at least) 30 years newer.  I'd rather throw money at a 20 year old tractor because the part availability is going to be better.... and I'd rather sit in the a/c and listen to the radio, lol.  Anyway, that's my $.02. 

One more thing.... if you don't own one, buy a John Deere rotary hoe and use it!  Run it 3 to 4 days after planting, and ever 4 days after until the crop is big enough to cultivate.  If you plant soybeans, don't hoe when the beans are breaking the surface and their "neck" is bent.  Once they upright and open, resume hoeing.  If you aren't already doing that, do it.  Amazing the difference a hoe makes when used the right way.  I still use all the organic farming things I learned, but in my garden now.  I have an old pull type JD hoe section I pull behind a Cub Cadet, and several mounted cultivators.  Unless it rains, my garden is clean and I don't have to use hand tools.  Just pull an occasional stray weed.  BTW, I hated organic farming.  Yeah, big prices per bushel.... much smaller yields, lots and lots more labor and fuel burned.  With the exception of a garden.... God allowed us to invent herbicides for a reason. 

Sorry for the long post. 

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How about a 966 open station?  Good visibility, fairly economical on fuel for cultivating, and they can be found fairly cheap.  You would also have a large frame tractor to handle more weight in the back.

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Good post! Is the forward mounted cultivating Equipment easier on operating ergonomic, I would think Long days in the seat looking forward and aft all the time for swept placements . 
hope there’s more discussion on this ,I find it interesting 

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I think I would look hard to find a solid 856 and a front mount cultivator if I could. Nothing wrong with a 756 and would hazard a guess that it would burn less fuel. Same size hood as a 686 but much more tractor to handle the cultivator.

I would agree with J Mech on the preference for the smaller hood over the 66 series.

I've never ran a rear mount cultivator but from running a front mount I dont see why I would want to for the view of seeing what you're doing. 

 

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If I was doing a lot of cultivating I'd get a hydraulic guide hitch. I actually have a Wetherell unit but I've never used it. I use an 806 with a 6 row wil rich cultivator or my 5288 with a 183 12 row. 

A friend of mine has a 12 row Sukup single sweep cultivator on a 4440 with an Acura Trak Guide Hitch and if the crop has some size to it he runs 9 MPH or better in straight rows.  In contour rows he slows down to make sure the guide  hitch can keep up. 

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7 minutes ago, Super A_sepa said:

 

I've never ran a rear mount cultivator

 

You didn't miss out on anything believe me. Lol! Looked back at either a RM or a 183 back in the day. Front mount would be pretty sweet. I remember the Super 90 having front mount one on. 40" rows. Left in 1975

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J-mech, thanks for all the info. This is my 8th year being certified. I work for a larger farmer that helped me get started. They farm around 2,000 acres conventionally. I farm my organic on the side. I see all aspects of farming I spray their crops, Liberty, round up, enlist, fungicide, insecticide you name it. And I also rotary hoe and row cultivate my own crop. While I am glad we are not trying to farm 2,000 acres organically there is nothing prettier then a wide row field that you cleaned yourself and aren’t relying on Monsanto to do it for you. I am a first generation farmer and trying to buy equipment from scratch I feel the organic row crop Prices have helped me get where I am today faster. I can run smaller equipment on smaller acres and still profit a good margin. 
 

I used to run deere hoes and went to a yetter as they have an arm for every wheel and follow the ground better then a 400. Yes hoeing is a huge help and a must in organic. My first close cultivator is an John Deere rg6 with trip shanks and flat row shields this cultivator is just right for the 686. I also have a hiniker 6000 and a buffalo 6 row, this is where a little more tractor would be nice. 
 

I appreciate the input on a newer Mx tractor but there is zero percent chance I will buy a newer tractor with a cab. Yes ac and radio are nice but seeing your crop and not having lightning strikes all over the field is way more important to me. I love the feel and visibility of the 686. I made a row guide and it makes all the difference in the world. Also it seems these old ih tractors are pretty tough and reliable. I don’t mind working on something some and with the older tractors I can do that. My clutch went out cultivating this year, dad and I split it ourselves and had a new clutch for around $400 and a day or so labor. I bought it for $9,000 and have spent. Some money on it, Injection pump redone, newer used rock shaft, new clutch new hydraulic pump. Even with these parts I’m way less money then an Mx. So all that being said I want a tractor from 06-86 and am curious what would be best. Mike I’ve considered a 966 but I know just sitting on one it feels big. I would probably get used to it but I like the size of a 686. How would a 856 compare to the size of a 686 and a 966? Does if fall somewhere in between the 2 was kind of what I was hoping. 
thanks Nick 

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IH 766 Diesel open station. Try to go test drive one that is in respectable condition. You will love it. 

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32 minutes ago, Dirtscooter5 said:

there is nothing prettier then a wide row field that you cleaned yourself and aren’t relying on Monsanto to do it for you. I am a first generation farmer and trying to buy equipment from scratch I feel the organic row crop Prices have helped me get where I am today faster. I can run smaller equipment on smaller acres and still profit a good margin.

In my opinion 2000 acres of clean fields using herbicide looks better, and I've been on both sides of this coin.  Granddad though he could drop acreage and make better profit margin on fewer acres too.  Organic farming was like a religion to him.  He made enough money with more acres that he bought new equipment now and again.  Maybe not brand new, but at least traded up.  After about 10 years organic, he had run every piece of machinery into the ground.  Didn't even have money for decent repairs, and band-aided things together.  Now, I admit I do not think my granddad was the best at managing finances..... but he did do better with more acres and a sprayer.  All the other organic farmers I know ended up about the same.  Old equipment that is wore out.  Just my opinion..... and the geographical area you live in makes a difference too.  I am just saying I am skeptical that organic farming has put you ahead.  

I'm happy that you are a first gen farmer, but don't discount what others have learned over the years.  If my granddad hadn't ran what was left of the family farm into the ground, I would have been 5th generation to get some of the land.

 

33 minutes ago, Dirtscooter5 said:

I appreciate the input on a newer Mx tractor but there is zero percent chance I will buy a newer tractor with a cab. Yes ac and radio are nice but seeing your crop and not having lightning strikes all over the field is way more important to me.

Well, if I can cultivate with a 1086, surely you can cultivate with an MX100 and have good luck.  It's 10X easier to see out of one of them than an 86 series. I wouldn't be so adamant about not getting one.  Have you priced a 2wd MX 100 from the early 2000's?  2001-2005?  Price isn't bad.  Around $20,000.  You can't buy a brand new sub compact tractor for less than that.  You can see just fine out of a cab tractor for cultivation, as long as you get a more modern one.  The older machines were just hard to see out of, which is actually pretty funny when you think about it.  Everyone cultivated crops back then, and few now.  Yet now we have much easier to see out of cab machines.  Things are funny that way.  

 

34 minutes ago, Dirtscooter5 said:

Also it seems these old ih tractors are pretty tough and reliable. I don’t mind working on something some and with the older tractors I can do that. My clutch went out cultivating this year, dad and I split it ourselves and had a new clutch for around $400 and a day or so labor. I bought it for $9,000 and have spent. Some money on it, Injection pump redone, newer used rock shaft, new clutch new hydraulic pump. Even with these parts I’m way less money then an Mx.

Old IH tractor are tough and reliable..... but to get good parts you are having to visit a salvage yard now more often than a dealer.  That or deal with buying aftermarket and hope it isn't junk.  Yes, engines can be rebuilt..... but the kits are not what they used to be.  I guess if you like fixing things, it's ok.... but I don't, lol.  

$9,000 plus repairs, even done yourself...... what, $12/15,000?  That's not too far off from a MX100 used.  Think about it kid.....  1 set of new tires and you could have bought an MX. 

34 minutes ago, Dirtscooter5 said:

So all that being said I want a tractor from 06-86 and am curious what would be best. Mike I’ve considered a 966 but I know just sitting on one it feels big. I would probably get used to it but I like the size of a 686. How would a 856 compare to the size of a 686 and a 966? Does if fall somewhere in between the 2 was kind of what I was hoping. 

06- No.  Too old and wore out to be a reliable machine in my opinion.  Good for collectors and guys who only need 100 hours a year on a tractor.  Not someone who will put 80 hours a week on it from May to July.  

56 series: close to 06.  Getting old, but more reliable in my opinion.  Also a bit more user friendly.  But.... age also plays a factor in price.  Unless you are pulling it out of a fence row, you may have to give a shiny penny to buy a good one.  Those collectors drive prices up too. 

66 series:  Still good machines to use, but getting old.  Still very fixable and reliable, and not being added in huge numbers to collections YET...... but it's coming.  686, 766, 966.... good choices as cultivator tractors.  

86 series:  Don't make this mistake.  Avoid them at all costs.  

88 series:  Seems the open station 88 series was easier to see behind you.  Cab was forward farther on them. Have you considered a 30 series like a 30/32/34(hydro)/3688?

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1 minute ago, Dirtscooter5 said:

How does the physical size of a 766 compare? Is it the same as a 966? 

Same.  They are both large frame tractors.  All of these are larger than your 686.  The 656/666/686 was the largest of the small frame tractor line up.  It will be a move up to large frame no matter what you get unless you buy another one of the 3 I listed. (656/666/686)

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One more thing..... 

*IF* organic profit margins are better than margins on conventional.... you should be able to buy one machine new enough to get auto steer and GPS.  Then you need not ever worry about "lightening strikes" in your organic crop again.  What percentage of crop do you lose due to cultivator blithe?  How much yield loss is there getting onto the row when hoeing?  Every time you get off and into the row it causes yield loss, even if you don't see it with your eyes.  How much can you increase yield with modern equipment?  Think about it like a businessman instead of like an old farmer...... because it is a business. 

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J-mech, I am sitting in the guys I work for 110 maximum right now. All I can see is window, frame and fenders. My 5120 was open station and still was horrible to cultivate with. I want to see the row between the front and rear tire I made a cultivating rod and on newer tractors you can’t for one even mount it most times and 2 see it if you do mount it. The 06-66 were made to cultivate and see off of. For the accuracy I’m looking for this is what I have painfully discovered after 8 years of trial and error. I’m not trying to argue I’m just flat out saying this is the series of tractor that I need. 
 

as for the income side of it I can usually raise 100-150 bushel organic corn and 30-50 bushel beans. These are small creek bottom fields with tree edges and deer damage. At $10 organic corn that’s 1,000-1,500 an acre my only input is seed and chicken litter, seed is the same price as conventional corn seed and I spend $205 an acre for litter and spreading. So I’m in for around 300 an acres input cost not counting cash rent. And my time and fuel cultivating. At 3.50 conventional corn to gross $1,000 an acre you would need to raise 285 bushel corn, to gross $1,500 an acre it would take 428 bushel an acre. I hope this helps. Again I wasn’t asking if I should farm organically I was saying I do farm organically and am looking for a second cultivation tractor 

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Not sure how you cultivate, but the flat landers here put the rods on the frame that went over the row that looked like a upside down "U"...............on the flat it worked great.  Now we used front mounts here at home, until the one tractor left, then instead of tieing up another tractor we decided to get a 3pt cultivator.  Tried the rods on the frame, but in our hills on the contours all we did was field cultivate the crop out with the cultivator.  Found the best way was to get your hitch tight, and visualize your butt in the seat over the middle of the two center rows in your head looking forward and drive.  On the contours your front end would not be in the right spot(hence why the U rod didn't work), but if your butt was, the cultivators would be too.  With all that said, a good front mount on a 706 or 756 is hard to beat with anything else.  Later in life though with a early 4020(Dash hydraulics, non side console) with a front mount probably did top the 7's..............It might have been the only job where the dash controls were nice, you could go right up to the last plant in point rows and lift each side separately watching each side with the controls right there.  

I loved cultivating.............especially the later times through, you could really open it up and move.  

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Ooooo... cultivating.    I still cultivate my corn...and put on sidedress at the same time.  

I can tell you from experience that an 806 needs a full rack of weights to lift a 8 row Glencoe C shank cultivator.   (And if you try to pull a 800 gallon tank of 28% behind it, it will lift the front of the tractor off the ground anyway!)  So even the larger frame needs help at 8 rows.

I have a 666, but haven't tried it on a 8 row cultivator yet.  Love the tractor, but think its too small for an 8 row.   My JD 7410 on the other hand, handles a 8 row like its not there.

If you really want a sweet cultivating setup--I have a FNH 9030 bidirectional, and a 8 row Glencoe cultivator I "turned around" and push.  So the cutlivator is right out front of the cab, and I sit right over it.   However, the 9030 is a expensive & complex tractor.

GPS---it isn't really good enough to follow rows--the planter certainly doesn't stay sub-inch while planting unless you are dead flat.    A few guys seem to make it work, most say it doesn't.

I actually don't care about yield per acre....whats important is return per acre.   If you are making organic & hard work work for return per acre.....good going .  I'm too old to work that hard any more!  (of course, J-Mechs comments on driving over yield loss will still affect your returns..... you can sure see where I drive on the row with the sprayer!!)

Having had 806-1066-1486....I would recommend you consider the 66 series.  Yes, the slightly wider hoods affect visibility a little, but the reliability & better parts availability offset that. (not to mention its way easier to change spin-on filters.)   

I'm not all that big of a fan of front mount, even though I run one that way.   Dad used to have a 4 row front mount on a 400.  Total pain to take on and off, and I found it harder to run the the rear mount for some reason.   A properly setup up rear mount...and then DON'T look back all the time.  Trust the cultivator to do its job....keep your eyes on the row ahead.  

One thing I did discover---those S tine cultivators were useless.   Didn't work at all in our heavy soils.  Dad bought an 8 row Noble S tine...tried it a couple years.  Basically, it would see a weed coming and dodge!  One of the first items I cut up for scrap.

 

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Yes, a front mount you need to dedicate a tractor to for the summer...................worth it if your running alot of ground, not worth it with a little.  

On a side note, some 3pt Lilliston rolling cultivators made there way up here.................those sure work nice.  If I ever put corn out again, that is what I will use.

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TP, I have considered trying a front mount cultivator. I a mainly flat for now no terraces so staying on the row isn’t bad and if I do get on a slope or in a curve I can run the rod to one side or the other of the row. The U shaped tip on the rod sounds like a good idea. Is it a fair chore to mount and dismount a front mount cultivator? I usually rotary hoe and cultivate all with the same tractor. 

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786 open station would be a good option.  Very good visibility, easy on and off.  Will pull a 6 row planter and also a cultivator when needed.

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I would say if I were you, I would look for an 06 56 or a 66 open station that has been restored your going to pay a little bit more but usually that tractor is been fixing one of the other
I think you’ll be happy with any of them

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Nice 686!    If you only want to use a 6 row...you could sure find another similar tractor.   Much harder to find than the larger frame units though (at least in the Midwest.  I had to drive 300 miles to find a 666...just not nearly as common.)  

   I got a ROPS from Iron Bull for ~$1300 for my 666...feel safer mowing roads now.

IMG_0126.JPG

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