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Old 08-06-2007, 02:06 PM
Location: Rural Central Texas
3,581 posts, read 9,000,834 times
Reputation: 5402


I have a few acres that are infested with Giant Ragweed (aka Bloodweed) and Johnson grass. It tends to grow very fast and tall. I have not been able to mow for over a month now due to frequent rains and the bloodweed is over 15 foot tall is some areas and the Johnson grass is almost 6 foot in most areas. I have only been able to keep a small area close to the house under any kind of control with the push mower, and even that has been very difficult to keep under 4 foot tall. I definitely need something that will allow me to wrestle back after periods that keep me out of the field.

I need something rugged and easy to maintain, yet budget priced. I am expecting to buy used if possible, so old enough to be "cheap" and still young enough to be serviceable.

I know enough to realize that I want a 3pt hitch and a front end loader would be a plus. The bloodweed has thick stalks, up to 1.5 inches and are very woody. A finish mower is out of the question, but I think a light weight rough cutter would stand up to it. Any comments on that assumption?

Are there any brands that hold up better to the novice user who will not recognize the importance of many basic things until too late? Any tips on "extras" that should really be "must-haves"?

Lastly, anything that I should recognize as a "run very far and fast from this deal"?
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:55 PM
Location: The Raider Nation._ Our band kicks brass
1,854 posts, read 8,521,270 times
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It seems that tractor prices have come down since I bought my used Yanmar.
I know that I would never get along without a front loader. The tractor would be pretty much worthless without that. I really wish I would have gotten 4 wheel drive. I had to load my rear tires with washer fluid, and install a counter weight on the 3pt hitch to get any traction. Mine is a YM2000B, 2 cylinder diesel. It has 24 engine hp, and 20 hp at the pto. It's a category one 3 point, but is limited because of the horse power. I can only use a 48" mower, and a small tiller. The 5' Brush Hog was too much for it.

There are so many good brands out there, that I really couldn't recommend just one. Most compact tractors are made in Japan under various names. A few are made in Europe. Just stay away from the ones made in China. I have never heard anything good about them. I would suggest at least 30 hp, 4x4, and hydraulic shuttle shift. There is a forum just like this one that is really good. tractorbynet.com
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:28 AM
2,065 posts, read 4,160,552 times
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I maintain 5 acres with my John Deere 4100HST. FEL, 60 M/M, 4' brush cutter with about 850 hrs.... works out just right. I also have a 10kw PTO generator that only uses .82 gals per hr @ 75% load, which is good for power outages.

Something around this size would be fine.... but if it's the heavy stuff you want to manage, have someone run a bush hog over the big stuff and then get a Garden Tractor, and just keep it cut. You'll save a ton of money.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:36 AM
Location: Rural Central Texas
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Originally Posted by Dave_n_Tenn View Post
but if it's the heavy stuff you want to manage, have someone run a bush hog over the big stuff and then get a Garden Tractor, and just keep it cut. You'll save a ton of money.
That is the route I started out on. Unfortunately, with my work schedule I can only cut once per week at best, sometimes I loose a week due to work or rain, sometimes more.

After 10 days those bloodweed get about 4 foot tall and they are just beating the dickens out of my Yardman 17hp. The deck is getting torn apart (literally) by the rough stalks. I don't figure it will last more than another year or two at most.

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Old 08-09-2007, 11:52 AM
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If this growing season is a little unusual and all you need the brush hog for is this small acreage, I'd rent a tractor and brush hog for the few times you need it. Unless you need a loader for other purposes, you'd still be better off to rent when you need the equipment.

Depending upon the area of the country you live in, a modest mid 20 HP older tractor (8N Ford, small JD, etc) will cost anywhere from $3,000 on up (and up!). Add a decent brush hog unit (not a wimpy light duty one), and you'll spend another $2,000. It's not uncommon to spend $12-15,000 by the time you get one of the better Japanese tractors (Kubota, etc), or an older domestic tractor. The old tractors are good workhorses, but they do need care, fiddling, and attention to keep them running properly. The "newer" tractors will have "live" PTO's, which makes operating the equipment safer and easier, but again ... it all costs money to join the club.

Considering how dense and tall the vegetation problem is now, you'll need the heaviest duty hog and a more powerful tractor to do the clearing than you'd otherwise need if you keep up with a reasonable schedule to clear the place. Renting heavier equipment which can take the abuse is going to be much more economical for your needs .... the rental company figures you're going to abuse the equipment and buys heavy duty stuff you wouldn't ordinarily buy for yourself.
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Old 08-10-2007, 06:28 AM
Location: Northern MN
592 posts, read 2,531,386 times
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Unless your weeds are perennials, you're kind of just putting off the problem by mowing. I've yet to see any used mower, or brush hog that isn't on its second or third gearbox with the exception of the Bobcat mowers that use hydraulic motors instead of shaft driven. I'm not at all familiar with Texas, but to me the solution would be to spray Roundup on the entire acreage to kill the invasive weeds, then plow, disc, and plant it in the spring. As far as tractors go, I personally prefer older American tractors to the newer compact ones. I have a restored Oliver 1850 (90 h.p.) that is way overkill for most of the work I do but it cost me about 20% of what a newer compact would cost. I was able to buy the tractor, a 4 bottom plow, a disc, a loader, haybine, a baler, and a box drag for about half of what a new tractor would have cost. Just my $.02.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:10 AM
Location: Rural Central Texas
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Yes, that is most of my problem. My property is downhill of a large open set of fields that drain across part of my land on it's way to a creek. As a result it is continually being reseeded with these Bloodweed seed. Roundup does not deter future weed crops.

As far as the growing season, it has been unusual in that we have had constant rain for over 6 weeks this year, but it is not uncommon to have two weeks back to back of rain. Even that amount seems to be enough for this stuff to take over. Imagine sunflower stalks that grow 3-4 feet per week,in full sun and plenty of water. Except that these do not have edible seed, that is what I contend with.

Renting makes sense to me, but I have not found anyone in my area yet that rents this type of equipment. I have found walk-behind brush hogs, but it took 3 full days of mowing with that and I still did not completely finish the weedpatch. I have found a few people that do mowing that have come out, but they seem to lose interest in returning after the second mowing. On to easier money I guess.
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Old 08-10-2007, 10:43 AM
Location: Northern MN
592 posts, read 2,531,386 times
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Again, I have no idea how things work or grow in Texas, but when I bought my place it was overrun with noxious weeds. I disked all the pasture, and replanted. So far where I've got pasture growing well (we've been way dry, 11" below average rainfall) there are no weeds. My local ag agent suggested the roundup as a way of killing the seed stock and explained further once the new pasture is established and maintained the weed farm I once had would be taken over by healthy grass. Mostly, I've found it to work pretty well. I guess in your case the determining factor would be what your intentions are for your acreage.
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Old 08-12-2007, 01:22 AM
4,285 posts, read 14,137,552 times
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In the world of tractors, it's always better to have 10 more HP than you need than vice versa.

If you're determined to own your equipment for this project, then aim for something in the 30-60 HP range. These larger size units will have loaded rear tires and heavy duty PTO gears which are designed to handle the shock loads of whacking through larger saplings.

Stick with North American manufactured units rather than getting involved with cut rate Eastern European models like Zetor or Belarus. These brands may be slightly cheaper, by they can have some very primative features.

Deisel is preferable to gasoline-engined tractors simply because the deisel deliver a flatter torque curve through the engine's power band. Deisel engines will also last considerably longer before a rebuild is necessary.

Ensure the unit you buy has a live PTO. This means you can stop motion of the drive wheels of the tractor by depressing the clutch, but the PTO will continue to rotate under power.

A set of hydraulic remote couplers on the rear of the tractor is handy if you plan on adding other equipment in future.

Front -end loaders have a thousand different uses, but will add thousands to the price tag.

If you go for a loader, then be sure the unit has a "power down" feature. In other words, make sure the unit will exert hydraulic down pressure; many older loaders just lowered by the force of gravity which makes grading, digging and back-dragging a challenge.

Start making the rounds of tractor dealers in your area to get an idea of local values.

With respect to the bush hog, I'd be inclined to get a new unit.

You mentioned this bloodweed has thick, woody stalks. Be aware that your tractor runs on rubber tires that are not impervious to being punctured by short, sharp, stumps. Be wary of this when cutting after the initial cut. A rear tractor tire can run anywhere up to $1000 to replace.

Here's an excellent site for finding used farm equipment:

Find Used Tractors for Sale - Used John Deere tractors, tractor prices, farm equipment
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Old 08-12-2007, 04:03 PM
Location: North of the Cow Pasture and South of the Wind Turbines
854 posts, read 2,620,487 times
Reputation: 2274
Do you think something like the two new Dr Power brands for pull behind on ATV, UTV, small lawn/garden type tractor would do the trick? - I have been looking and not to derail the thread, but they seem up to the job especially since you can offset the angle and drive into the deep stuff clear after a first pass. Now 15ft is mighty for anything lol but the mightiest.

Just wondering I have some similar areas to clear not that evil crap for sure lol, and can't justify the expense of a full blown bush hog setup. But I was sure they were in the 1100 to 1500 range last year and now they are 2100 - 2500 or so I believe - if they are really up to the task then I could really save some money since I have a wheeler and small tractor already.

Last edited by BovinaCowHateWindTurbines; 08-12-2007 at 04:06 PM.. Reason: I can speal
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