The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

Time seems to go by more quickly with each passing year. We are already halfway through winter, and it seems like just yesterday we were wrapping up last year’s harvest. As the snow continues to fall for much of the country, there is more time to catch up on some shop work and maintenance. Looking forward, keep in mind that this year may be a little different than those in the past because most equipment and parts won’t be available on an as-needed basis.

In the past, when a unit broke down, we went into town to get the part or a new or used replacement piece of equipment. Using the same approach this year could be a problem. The last two years have depleted most of the stock units and parts sitting on warehouse shelves. The extra supply just isn’t there anymore.

To really keep your operation humming this summer, you will need to make parts and equipment plans now while the snow is still falling. This will certainly be true for new equipment, but it is also the case for used equipment, if that’s what fits your budget.

Be proactive and talk with your local dealer to discuss the available options that will meet your needs. There are many ways to locate and acquire used equipment. Giving your salesperson a heads-up as to what you are looking for will raise the chances of finding it in the shortest amount of time.

New equipment deliveries seem to be taking a minimum of six months, with some pieces completely booked for 2022 production. In other words, every available unit that is scheduled to be built in the 2022 model year has been spoken for by a dealership. So, the only way to know if a particular model is even available is to be up front with your salesperson and tell them what you are looking for. Even if they don’t have any ordered, it’s still possible to do some swapping with other dealers, although this takes time. It’s not something that can be done when the hay is on the ground next summer.

Fill your shop shelves

Failing to plan ahead may result in not getting the equipment that you want or overpaying for the only piece you can find. The same can be said for parts availability. Manufacturers are doing their best to keep parts on the shelves, but the in-flow of new parts is sporadic at best. The arrival of containers with parts is about the same flow as trucks to the silage pile — you wait for 30 minutes and nothing, then five trucks show up at once. This is the way parts containers have been arriving in many cases.

It will be especially important this year to stock up on heavily used parts at you farm, rather than assume they will have them at the dealership. You can work with your parts manager to identify those parts that are most often purchased during the growing season for your specific equipment line. The old saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” will certainly be true in 2022.

Stay in front of your equipment and parts needs for the next 18 months. I don’t see the situation getting back to normal before then. Even after a year and a half, we may find ourselves in a “new normal.” Let’s hope we can get back to prepandemic stocking levels on both equipment and parts as soon as possible so that all involved can rest a little easier during the busy growing season.

This article appeared in the February 2022 issue of Hay & Forage Grower on page 24.

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