Dazzled by dancing lights and diesel smoke, John Deere dealers had plenty to cheer about on July 25. As a mammoth sound system boomed out war drum music reminiscent of the movie Braveheart, 54 new farm machines rolled across the Albuquerque Convention Center stage. Overhead, two Jumbotron screens flashed images of green tractors and implements racing across fields. Words such as “speed,” “productivity,” and “affordable price” scrolled past.

These dealers, and a gaggle of journalists, were witnessing John Deere's largest product introduction in its 164-year history, and the company was sparing no expense to drive the point home. In one of many inspirational talks, Doug DeVries, senior vice president of Deere ag marketing, implored the dealers to “take command” and use the armada of new products to “push the competition out of consideration.” Deere's goal, he explained, was “global preeminence.”

After two days of meetings and product demonstrations in the Deere product blitz, one prominent message came through. Deere has realized that continued company growth must come at the expense of its competitors. That means aggressively expanding product lines and venturing into markets the company has previously ignored. Hence, Deere's new product introductions include niche markets such as small tractors, economy models, high-speed mowers, telehandlers and heavy-duty tractors that are equally capable of pulling farm implements or earthmoving scraper pans. The following are just a few of the products soon to hit Deere dealerships across the country.

Small can be beautiful

Until now, Deere has virtually ignored the prominent low-cost 80- to 100-hp tractor market. While the green giant busied itself dominating the row crop market, Japanese tractor company Kubota quietly acquired 41% of the small to mid-sized tractor business. Barry Nelson, Deere public relations manager, points out that small tractors are a growing and increasingly important market, and, well, Deere now wants a piece of that action.

Deere's 6020 series tractors range from 65 to 90 hp. The smaller 5020 series ranges from 45 to 75 hp. Nelson explains that the new small tractors bring many of the benefits of larger Deere tractors within the range of farmers with a smaller operation or anyone who needs a good all-around tractor for pulling a mower, lifting a loader or pulling wagons.

To increase performance and fuel efficiency, PowerTech engines in the 6020 models feature a new low-temperature cooling circuit for the charge-air cooler and transmission/hydraulic oil. Several transmission options are available. The Autoquad II 24/24 transmission is the deluxe option. It comes with a left-hand reverser and four powershift speeds in six synchronized ranges and a single-lever control with push buttons for up-and-down shifting. An electronic governor works in conjunction with the transmission to precisely control engine speed for maximum performance and efficiency.

Prices for the 6020 models range from $42,711 to $48,358.

Size matters

Extreme heavy-duty tractors are another class that Deere hasn't yet dominated. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before Big Green beefed up its machines to compete with the industrial-strength Caterpillar Challenger and Case STX machines.

Now, size envy is no longer an issue, as the new Deere 9020 and 9020T series pump up to 450 hp through a new clutch-free, 18-speed powershift transmission. Five 4-wd models range from 280 to 450 hp, and two tracked models range from 375 to 450 hp. Large gears, shafts and clutch packs are built to handle heavy-duty work such as pulling wide tillage equipment or scraper pans for earthmoving operations. These large tractors range in base price from $127,000 for a 9120 to $222,251 for a tracked 9520T.

To capitalize on its big pullers, Deere is also offering three new fixed blade ejector scrapers ranging in price from $52,900 to $67,500. For the field, the new 2100 series of minimum-till rippers offers widths from 12½ to 21 ft. with adjustable configurations to match individual tillage practices. Ripper prices range from $6,590 to $9,141. Not yet priced, the 2700 mulch ripper performs three jobs in one pass: It mulches with a disc, shatters with a ripper and levels with a soil conditioner in widths ranging from 12½ to 18 ft.

Row crop improvements

In the $99,000 to $170,000 range, Deere's 8020 series tractors offer 170 to 255 hp with larger tires and the option to mount rear triples and front doubles for improved traction and reduced compaction. Tracked “T” models offer seven new belt options for a variety of terrains. Wheeled models offer 18% more hitch lift capacity. For an additional $10,900, an optional computerized independent link suspension improves ride over rough terrain and virtually eliminates power hop. The high-tech suspension allows faster field travel and greater pulling power.

Easy rider

Ride can be further improved for an additional $1,850 on both 8020 and 9020 series tractors. Deere's ActiveSeat isolates the driver from 90% of vertical seat movement. Riding over rough terrain on one of these seats feels more like going over gentle ocean waves than the typical kidney-jarring experience you're probably used to. Even if the rolling motion makes you feel a bit seasick, you'll be able to drive across the field so much faster that it's probably worth it to pop some Dramamine and hop on anyway. Progress, it seems, always has its price.

For more information, contact your John Deere dealer, visit www.johndeereag.com.

9020/9020T Tractors

Deere has beefed up its largest tractors to pull wider tillage implements and dirt-moving scraper pans. Five new 4-wd models range from 280 to 450 engine horsepower, and three large-track models range from 375 to 450 engine horsepower. Price: $127,365 to $222,251.

6403 Tractor

The 6003 series lineup includes the 85-hp 6403 with a 4.5-liter PowerTech engine and the 95-hp 6603 with a 6.8-liter PowerTech engine. For doing loader work or using the 3-pt. hitch, the 6403 pumps oil at 12 gpm. The 6603 model receives more capacity at 15 gpm. Price: $30,942 to $34,870.

8520 Tractor

Five wheel models and five track models make up the 8020 series with PTO horsepower ranging from 170 to 255. All models use the PowerTech, 8.1-liter, high-pressure common rail engine. A new front suspension system controls power hop on wheel models. Price: $99,118 to $170,555.

1760 NT Planter

Available in 6-row, 30-in. and 8-row, 30-in. configurations, Deere's new planter folds to a narrow transport width of 12 ft. The 6-row, 30-in. planter is a manual fold, and the 8-row, 30-in. is available in either a manual or hydraulic fold frame. Price: $24,480 to $27,152.

3400 Telehandler

Deere's telehandlers use a 4-cyl., 4.5-liter John Deere PowerTech engine rated at 100 hp. The 3200 can reach more than 18 ft. and has a lift capacity of 3.1 tons. The 3400 can reach more than 23 ft. with a lift capacity of 3.3 tons. Price not available.

2100 Min-till Ripper

With working widths from 12½ to 21 ft., this new ripper can reach 16 in. deep, with coulters. The smooth, spring-cushioned, 22-in. coulter reduces surface disturbance, and a rippled coulter is available for more soil movement. Price: $6,590 to $9,141.

200 Seedbed Finisher

This implement uses staggered rolling baskets to break clods and level the soil profile. Spiraling rods are spaced to produce a soil texture that reduces crusting while firming the soil in the seed zone. Price not available.

1810E Ejector Scraper

Deere's new earthmoving tools use a front-pivoting frame to improve blade response and depth control. The 14-cu.-yd. 1412E is designed for use with tractors with 225 or more horsepower. The 18-cu.-yd. 1810E and 1814E are for use with larger 4-wd tractors. Price: $52,900 to $67,500.