Looking for a two-row corn planter

In March of 2007, when I announced the closing of my newspaper and the beginning of this blog, I posted my first online column on “Life after Newspapering.” In that, I listed 10 possible things I might become involved in after my retirement.

Looking back, I see that some of those predictions have become true. I certainly did build a tennis court and take another run at public office. On the other hand, I have cut back on my volunteer activities and I have not traveled as much as I would have liked. The most accurate prediction I made, however, was #10, “The unexpected.”

Little did I imagine two years ago that a return to farming would be in my future, however, that seems to be where I am heading. (For those who don’t know, I farmed in Caledonia from 1977-1992, eventually working myself up to over 600 acres of cash crops before being put out of business by a combination of disastrous weather and chronic low prices.)

No, it is not high grain prices that are tempting me back. This time I plan to approach farming from the other end of the spectrum. I want to be a small-scale vegetable and truck farmer. I have 75 acres here in Geneseo, and even reserving another 5 for future tennis club development, that still leaves plenty of room for veggies and maybe a few flowers.

All of which brings me to the title of this piece. Time was (when I had a weekly readership in the thousands) that I could put the word on the street in my newspaper column and within a few days I would get what I was looking for. Now that my readership is reduced to about 100 blog readers a week and 50 Facebook friends, it may be more difficult but I’m giving it a try.

I am looking for a two-row corn planter, preferably of the John Deere variety, but definitely one that has a fertilizer bin. Although I expect to build up the organic strength of my soil with my own homegrown mulch eventually, I learned enough from my first time around to know that going totally organic is not easy, and unlike the last time, I want this to be a profitable venture!

Ironically, I did own an old JD two-row corn planter for many years. Since it has been 16 years since my auction, however, I couldn’t quite remember whether I sold it in 1993 when I quit farming. A search of the old farm turned up another mystery. I found pieces of my two-row planter completely disassembled in an old barn!

I have a very vague recollection of wanting to use the frame and the undercarriage for some other purpose, but I can’t remember exactly what, and it appears to be long gone. That was probably not one of my best decision, because nowadays a fully functioning planter of that vintage can bring from $500 to $1,000. It seems that I am not the only person going back to the land on a small scale!

In any case, if you know of another old planter gathering dust in a barn somewhere, let me know. If it’s a John Deere, we might just have enough pieces between us to make it work.

One response to “Looking for a two-row corn planter

  1. Since this column is quickly headed towards being my most popular ever, I’ll go ahead and tell the rest of the story. After a search of local Craigslists revealed that there were many more people searching for 2-row corn planters than there were people offering to sell them, I decided to widen my search. Finally I found a John Deere planter being offered on the Lancaster, Pa Craigslist for $650. (BTW Along the way I discovered a site at craigshelper.com that allows you to search multiple Craigslist cities at the same time)

    I decided to scarf it up before somebody else got it and quickly made the 500 mile round trip to Pennsylvania. I rented a Toyota Tundra with a short box and was pleased when the planter (with tow bar removed) fit exactly into the 6.5 foot bed.

    I am currently in the process of adding the dry fertilizer attachment from my old planter to my newly acquired one, and was pleasantly surprised that I could still order parts for the 50+ year old model 290 at my local Big Green dealer.

    The fact that variations of the search terms “John Deere 2-row cornplanter” are by far the most searched words that bring people to my blog, and from other evidence, it appears that there is a resurgence of interest in small farming. Our darkening economy is just like old times of the original back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s.

    P.S. I have since noticed a farmer in Kansas who has made a good business out of buying used 6-row planters, cutting them down to 2 and 3 row planters and selling them on eBay. A good idea, since Deere had not made a new 2-row since 1955!

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