John Deere doesn't appear to be sitting out the recession. Instead, the company is using this down market time to develop new equipment and improve its current products.

It recently introduced a new row-crop tractor line called the 8R series and 8RT track series. The line includes six wheeled models and three track models. Deere also released a number of new products in its application, forage and precision equipment lines. Midwest crop farmers might be surprised to see the wide variety of new machinery populating Deere dealerships this fall.

8R, 8RT series tractors

Deere adds valuable horsepower to an already high-horsepower, row-crop tractor line. The top end of the new 8R and 8RT series is a tractor with 345 engine hp, about 15 hp more than the 8030 series tractor that it replaces. The bottom of the line offers 225 engine hp.

The tractors are equipped with PowerTech Plus, 9-liter, 6-cyl. engines with 2,100 rpm. Deere expects these tractors to be among the most fuel-efficient in the U.S. when they are tested at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab, similar to its 8030 tractor model that earned the most fuel-efficient label after its testing.

The most visible change in the new tractor series is the spacious and sleek CommandView II cab. Deere's engineers say it has 10% more space than the previous CommandView cab and more features. It comes with a premium sound package, redesigned control arm, easy-to-read display and instructor seat that converts into a desk for a laptop or storage. Deere beefed up the air conditioning by putting the unit back on the roof (where it used to be) and installing 10 vents around the operator. The result is similar to going from a window air conditioner to central air.

Deere also improved the operator's view by adding more glass and repositioning cab supports. A new lighting package offers 360° vehicle illumination to help keep an operator from becoming fatigued when he or she works late into the night.

The 8RT series track model is built new, according to Deere. For the first time, Deere's infinitely variable transmission (IVT) is available on a track model. The IVT allows an operator to shift from 0 to 24 mph with a single lever. The track line also features the AirCushion suspension system, which is installed on Deere's larger 9030T track tractors. The suspension system provides better vehicle traction as well as operator comfort. The track spacing can also be adjusted from 72 to 160 in.

The new Deere tractor series is the first under Deere's new numbering system. The first number represents the size of the tractor and the next three numbers are the engine horsepower. The letter following indicates a tractor's capabilities and price. The higher the letter is up the alphabet, the more the tractor will do and cost. A second letter refers to other configurations, such as tracks.

Retail prices range from $166,000 to $267,000 for the 8R series tractors and from $230,000 to $262,000 for the 8RT series.

7950 forage harvester

Deere wants to increase its presence in the forage market with its new 7950 self-propelled forage harvester and 770 corn head. This model is powered by a 19-liter Cummins engine that produces 800 hp, which is 120 hp more than produced by the 7850 model it replaces. The 770 corn head handles 10 rows of crop and will chop in any direction.

To handle the rigors of material going through the machine at 200 lbs./sec., Deere added a new Duraline feature. This feature prevents excessive wear by adding a hard coating to any surface coming into contact with the crop.

Another feature is an engine speed management system that regulates rpm and speed of the harvester based on field conditions.

Deere also announced that it will address servicing issues related to Cummins engines. Now Deere dealers will be trained to service the engines and will have parts available.

Suggested retail price for the 7950 harvester starts at $407,317.

4630 self-propelled sprayer

Not all Deere's new equipment is sized up. The new 4630 self-propelled sprayer is sized down to better meet the needs of small grain and row-crop growers. The new model, which replaces the 6700, includes many features of large sprayers. The 4690 is powered by a PowerTech, 165-hp, 6.8-liter turbocharged engine. It features a fully suspended axle, a 600-gal. poly tank and a 60- or 80-ft. boom. The model has Deere's popular CommandView cab that is GreenStar AutoTrac-ready.

Customers may choose between two axle configurations: 72- to 88-in.-wide or 90- to 120-in.-wide axles. Price: $167,509.

PitStop Pro tendering system

Deere designed a system that lets growers quickly change anhydrous ammonia tanks without leaving the tractor cab. Called PitStop Pro, the new tendering system can be added to Deere's 2510H nutrient applicators next year.

The PitStop Pro is attached to the applicator, and the operator hits an unhitch button to automatically unhook it from an empty tank. When the applicator with PitStop is correctly aligned with a full tank, the operator pushes a “couple” button to attach the tank. PitStop Pro may save more than an hour a day because the operator does not need to get in and out of the cab for hitching and unhitching.

Load Command system

Deere's new Load Command system drops the normal fill time for a 1,200-gal. sprayer tank from 12 min. to 3 min. During a typical day of custom application, a sprayer like the Deere 4930 may refill up to 33 times. By cutting the fill time, Load Command greatly increases the amount of acres covered in a day. It is available on 2010 models of the 4930 sprayer.

AutoTrac guidance products

Deere's new AutoTrac RowSense Universal is designed to work with other brands of combines and older Deere combine models. This RowSense uses both GPS and mechanical-feeler data to guide the combine on the corn row.

The AutoTrac Controller, new for 2010, expands its compatibility with non-John Deere platforms, including Case IH Magnum and MX series tractors.

400 series windrowers

Deere designed its new 400 series of self-propelled windrowers for beef, dairy and custom-hay operations. The series comes in three models: the A400 and D400 with 125 hp each, and the R450 with 200 hp. The A400 and R450 replace Deere's 4895 and 4994 windrowers. The D44 is for draper applications. Prices start at $80,090.

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