4 considerations for choosing the right combine capacity for your farm


Farmers are all about efficiency and productivity as they keep their eyes on profitability. It’s a real accomplishment to make sure you have the right size of equipment for the task at hand. With the cost of machinery and rising interest rates in 2018, this calculation has become even more critical for managing capital purchases and debt load.

Like many decisions in agriculture, acres matter. There is no doubt when we ask this question of combine capacity many people will list the number of machines needed per acre. As we all know the answer is not that simple. Here are four considerations on right-sizing combine capacity:

    1. As we have all experienced this year, harvest can be a real stop and start type of affair that requires intense runs of work. The size and number of machines has to take into account the strong possibility that harvest is not like running a car plant. Weather is a major variable that can impact output and create challenges to complete harvest.
    2. The crops you grow also impact the combine capacity decision on a farm. A corn acre at 300 bushels is different than a 40 bushel durum crop. The variety and number of crops in your rotation could also play into your decisions on combine capacity.  The answer in a mid-west corn/soybean rotation could be different than a five-crop rotation on the Prairies.
    3. Access to labour is always a consideration on farms across North America, but we can assume that the additional inclusion of more robotics in the future will possibly alter the question of combine capacity in the future.
    4. Access to custom combines when you are in a bind could also impact your decision on combines needed. Custom combines can really be that needed release valve for your harvest.


“Depending on the area your are in, you have to consider horsepower. Having said that many growers assume 5000 acres per combine but that can vary extremely, so there is no exact answer.”

– Louis Melanson, Case IH, Combine Specialist on RealAg Radio –

When you factor in the possibility of weather, the crops you grow, and number of acres, this is a question that comes with much debate, unique situations, there is a different right answer for every farm.

If you have any thoughts on the question based on how you make this decision on your farm, send me an email at [email protected]

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