I went to the World AG Expo In Tulare, CA in mid-February. Here are a few things I learned.
The drought is causing real problems. The water levels of snow fed reservoirs are dwindling and wells are going dry. The farmers' first priority will be to save their orchards and vineyards; they may have to let some of their other crop ground go fallow.
According to a real estate agent who had a booth at the show, farm land is selling for $6,000 - $20,000 per acre near Tulare (depending on its proximity to water). Cash rent for vegetable or orchard ground averages $375 per acre.
Track tractors are huge in California. At the John Deere booth, they said 50% of the 8000 and 9000 series tractors sold in California have tracks. I talked to a Deere dealer from the Salinas valley and he said 100% of the 9000 series tractors that he sells are track machines and 90% of the 8000 series have tracks. Compaction is a big concern in their vegetable fields. Also farmers like the narrower transport width of the track machines versus dual wheeled tractors.
If there was any doubt, the Deere company has been working on robotics. I was told by my nephew who is involved in the management of a 42,000 acre farm in Arizona that Deere has robotic tractors running successfully there. They go out at night and are shut inside a shed by daybreak.
The Challenger track tractors at the AGCO booth (the 700 E and the 800 E series) were no longer powered by 6 cylinder CAT engines. The 700 E series uses a 7 cylinder SISU [now called AGCO Power engines] with 2 turbo chargers and the 800 E series use a V-12 SISU engine with 4 turbo chargers. AGCO people said that the SISU engines have more low end torque as well as better fuel economy than the CAT engines they replace.
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