Big mowers for big projects
By Dave DeValois
Farm News staff writer
With the official arrival of spring this week and longer hours of daylight, lawn care dealers are hoping consumers will turn their thoughts toward all things green.
That means mowing season is not far off and farm and acreage owners have hundreds of models to choose from to mow their lawns.
With cutting decks as large as 60-inches, zero-turn features for maneuvering around trees and other lawn objects, and mowers that move up to 9 miles per hour, it’s never been easier to get the job done, even on acreages or farms with several acres to mow. A tougher job than mowing may be figuring out which mower best fits one’s needs.
Todd Gwaltney, a product expert with the mowersdirect.com website, breaks zero-turn mowers into three categories – entry level, mid-grade and semi-pro – to help consumers decide which class of mower best fits their land and their budgets.
The first thing to consider is the size of property that one will mow on a weekly basis. For an acre or less, Gwaltney recommends a 34-inch to 42-inch cutting deck; 42-inch to 50-inch for one to two acres and 54-inch or larger for more than two acres.
Other factors include horsepower, fuel tank capacity, maximum speed and, of course, price.
Entry level zero-turn mowers range from $2,000 to $3,000, while semi-pro mowers are $5,000 and up. Semi-pro mowers have some of the heavy-duty features of commercial-grade mowers, such as welded steel decks rather than stamped steel, but are not designed to be used for eight hours a day, six or seven days a week for an entire growing season.
Lawn care dealers in Iowa said many farmers and acreage owners prefer the semi-pro niche, because they want a dependable mower and they want to get the job done quickly.
“The last thing (farmers) want to do, if they’re not in the field is to mow the yard.
“They want to get the job done quickly and get on to something else,” said Doug Sebastian, sales manager of Capital City Equipment in Des Moines.
Capital City Equipment sells a Kubota diesel engine zero-turn mower with a 60-inch cutting deck for about $14,000.
Sebastian said the diesel zero-turn mower is popular among farmers because it offers longer engine life, better torque, better fuel efficiency and is convenient, since most farmers have bulk diesel tanks available on their farms.
Farmers are willing to pay for the added features of the Kubota.
“Farmers don’t have the sticker shock a homeowner might,” Sebastian said. Capital City also offers a Landpride gas-powered, zero-turn mower in the $7,000 range, which still has a 60-inch cutting deck to get the mowing done quickly.
Andy Dunbar, owner of Dunbar Power Equipment, in Fort Dodge, sells primarily Toro mowers. He said farm and acreage customers like the Toro Titan series, which offers a blend of commercial and residential mower features.
“There are a lot of people that don’t need a commercial mower, but need some of the commercial mower’s features,”?Dunbar said. “The Titan series is designed for that type of use.
“It’s heavy duty but reasonably priced compared to commercial models. It’s been a really fantastic unit.”
The Toro Titan starts at $5,000 for a 48-inch cutting deck.
Dunbar said customers expect a whole package when they buy a mower in the $5,000 price range, including: a great product, a dealer they trust, a strong warranty, and a good financing package.
Dunbar expects a good season for lawn mower sales.
“Last year we had a fantastic year. It was the best season we ever had,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of interest in product this year.”
Contact Dave DeValois at email@example.com.
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