Small Farm Tractor Buyer’s Guide - Mid Size Tractors
Back in the day, a tractor was a tractor, but today there is a wide array of options available, and that can be overwhelming. Follow along in this blog series as we clarify a few things about today’s modern lineup, and help you decide what class of tractor will suit you best.
Tractor manufacturers now offer many sizes of tractors, typically grouped by “class.” These classes are designed with a target customer in mind so ability, power, options, and price points vary accordingly. Generally speaking, all tractor manufacturers offer a sub-compact, compact, mid-size, and full-size class range. Not all dealerships offer all the classes, so understanding what class you’re shopping for will help when deciding where to shop.
You get what you pay for, generally speaking, and the mid-size tractor category is a good example. Mid-size tractors offer more versatility, flexibility, horsepower, and conveniences than the smaller compact and sub-compact tractors, such as cab options and remote hydraulic controls. Mid-sized tractors will come with a Cat-1 hitch at a minimum, with many manufacturers offering a Cat-2 hitch with their larger mid-size tractors.
Power ratings and engines vary widely across this category, but most will feature a three-cylinder diesel engine between 35hp and 65hp. If you’re looking for a good all-around farm tractor with the capacity to run a lot of different implements, something close to the 50hp mark should serve you well. When you go north of 50hp, you will also find some manufacturers offer an “economy PTO” option, which is an overdrive for your PTO. When engaged, it allows the engine to spin slower while maintaining proper PTO shaft RPM’s, reducing fuel consumption while running equipment such as farm generators.
Bucket loader capacities vary widely in this category, anywhere between 1,200 pounds to over a ton at the bucket, which sounds excessive to some people but having a machine in this lift capacity range is far more practical for clearing land, lifting materials and moving pallets with a fork bucket. A standard size shipping pallet can handle over a ton of weight, so having a loader that can handle that safely will prove valuable to many farmers and homesteaders.
Mid-size tractors offer a lot of power and options as well as value for your dollar, and of course, that will be reflected in the purchase price. Prices for these models will be comparable to the purchase price of a well-appointed 1-ton pickup truck. When someone asks what class to look in for their best small farm tractor purchase, this is usually the class suggested first.
A 60hp mid-size tractor with all the fixings; a bucket loader with additional forward controls for bucket thumbs, mid-ship PTO for a snow blower, rear PTO with economy gear, and a fully enclosed cab with air conditioning, heat, and radio speakers might sound like a lot. Maybe, but for about $40,000 you can own a luxurious farm tractor that will operate everything on your farm implements list, keep you cool while mowing fields in July, and keep you warm while you push snow in January with a cup holder included.