So will the growth in these dual-purpose 4-wds cut into sales of row-crop tractors? Manufacturers say no. All report an increase in sales of both classes.

“You’re right to ask the question,” says Case IH’s Bohnker. “And it would be logical for more of the row-crop tractor demand to go to a Steiger. But there are a lot of farmers who have the mind-set that they want to have a row-crop tractor rather than an articulated tractor.”

In row-crop tractors, steering is tighter and the front wheels track with the direction the driver is turning, he says. Articulated tractors, on the other hand, have a pivot point behind the seat that creates a steering action that is less intuitive.

“Farmers are accustomed to having the steering action where they want it to be,” Bohnker says. “For some people, having both the front tires and rear tires turn on them takes some getting used to.”

Regional differences also are a factor. Bohnker says demand for 4-wds is highest in the Red River Valley and western Canada, where large planters and huge air seeders are common. In other areas like western Iowa, where small fields, point rows, and hills are common, row-crop tractors make more sense because implement size is limited.

“The thing about it is demand for our new 8Rs has been outstanding, too,” adds Guetterman of John Deere. “I would say the numbers are pretty consistent.”

Versatile’s Shust says there will always be good demand for row-crop tractors in applications where rear visibility is important, such as working with a tractor’s PTO or 3-pt. hitch.

“In row-crop tractors you are sitting right over the drawbar, 3-pt. hitch and hydraulic remote valves,” Shust says. “In a large 4-wd, you and your cabin are further away from the implement hook-ups. There will still be requirements for row-crop tractors for reasons like these. But all tractors are going up in horsepower, of course.”