Four Things To Keep In Mind When Tractor Shopping

Hosmer Winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York has been growing grapes since 1972, when it planted its first vines by Cayuga Lake in what is now Patrician Verona Vineyard. The winery that bears the Hosmer family name was established in 1985 and is still in the family today.

Having reliable equipment — including a Ford tractor the Hosmers have been putting to use for more than 40 years — is essential to the process.

In the July/August issue of Vintner Magazine, we talked with winery owners and vineyard managers who shared their tips for finding the right equipment. In that article, Hosmer Winery co-owner Timothy Hosmer talked about how he shops for a tractor.

The Hosmers are no strangers to tractor buying.

“My personal philosophy on tractors on our farm is to have at least one, modern, powerful, spray-safe cab tractor to use for spraying and other tasks that require that higher end horsepower, hydraulic flow and modern amenities, and then we have several older, cheaper, smaller tractors for light duty tasks such as under-vine cultivation, mowing and fertilizer spreading,” Hosmer said. “We like old Ford 3000-series machines for this role and own four. This gives us some flexibility to have multiple implements ready to work all at the same time when the grapes are growing fast and multiple tasks have to happen all in the same time frame. 

“For example, we might have a crop sprayer, a weed sprayer, an under-vine cultivator, a mower, and a fertilizer spreader all hooked to different tractors at the same time around bloom. This allows us to have multiple tasks happening at the same time in the field without wasting time switching implements on and off tractors, and also, by using a fleet of less expensive tractors to achieve it, we’re not breaking the bank in the process.” 

When buying a tractor, Hosmer’s tips include looking at:

  • Footprint: Width is an important consideration.
  • Flexibility: Can it handle a wide variety of tasks/implements?
  • Horsepower: “Not really such a thing as too much,” Hosmer said.
  • Hydraulic capacity: The more mechanized you get with modern implements, the more the hydraulic demand. 

Hosmer said there were a lot of good brands out there. Their reason for remaining brand loyal boils down to simplicity.

“It isn’t so much the brand itself, it’s just more about sticking to what we already have,” he said. “Parts and service can all come through one dealer. It’s just one less thing to have in the Rolodex.”

Read more equipment tips from Hosmer and other winery owners in the July/August issue of Vintner Magazine.

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