The row-crop tractor has long been the primary tractor used on Midwest farms. But an increase in the size of farm implements is stretching the limits of this classic standby.

Take for instance the 36-row Case IH Early Riser planter, which requires a minimum of 270 hp to pull. John Deere’s 48-row DB120 planter, named for its 120-ft. wingspan, takes a recommended 375 engine hp. In comparison, John Deere’s largest row-crop tractor, the 8360R, tops out at 296 PTO hp.

“It would be a real yank with a regular fixed-frame tractor,” says Wade Prouse, marketing manager for New Holland tractors. “Some of the new planters are almost forcing these guys into a four-wheel-drive.”

Prouse says in light of industry’s new large planters and other row-crop implements, farmers need more horsepower and hydraulic capacity than ever before. In response, manufacturers are offering 4-wd models designed with a row-crop chassis capable of running between the rows.

“We can now offer those customers up to 500 engine horsepower in a row-crop package,” Prouse says.