From Canada to Russia with love

Not everything a farmer might find at the Agritechnica farm show in Germany will seem to make sense to broad acre producers from the semi-arid Prairie.

A lot of tools are aimed specifically at vegetable country, and some of the biggest at the show are sugar beet machines.

When I say big, I mean gigantic units that can top, dig, sort and stash on wet soil. They are more like mobile factories than farm equipment. So versatile are some of these machines that they are capable of moving from beets to manure spreading in a few minutes.

The prices? If you have to ask, you wouldn’t be interested in buying one, but in many cases they start with a 1 and sometimes close to a 2 and have six figures after that.

And speaking of Versatile, that company made a big splash at the show with its Winnipeg-made 550 horsepower Delta Track, displayed in the Manitoba section in one of the largest exhibit halls at the show.

Made in Russia? | Michael Raine photo

Made in Russia? | Michael Raine photo

North American farmers also recognized one wearing slightly different plumage in an opposite corner of that building.

“You know I wasn’t surprised to see it here,” said Tom Wilson, who farms in Texas and Arizona and has run a new Delta Track.

“There are lots of large farms in Poland, East Germany and Russia, of course, and what used to be the East Bloc. It fits right in.”

“I was surprised to see one from Russia though. I was sure they made them in Winnipeg.”

Wilson and a group of American farmers were discussing the Rostselmash 550DT, which was the highlight of the Rostselmash exhibit.

Despite wearing a “Made in Russia” badge, speculation among the farm press at the show was that it was likely a Winnipeg creation with its tracks put on in Russia because there were no obvious differences between the models. The Rostselmash version retained almost all of the Versatile insignias and manufacturing plates.

Nonetheless, the versatile Canadian machine formed the background to a variety of special events for Rostselmash, Versatile’s parent company, including a large industry reception and the signing of a renewed deal that sees Germany’s Claas continue to supply engines, transmissions and drives to the Russian combine maker.

Last month, Claas became the first western machinery company to open a complete combine manufacturing plant in Russia, likely avoiding the 424 machine import quota that the country imposes on out-of-state units and improving the perception of the brand with Russian producers.

Look for stories from Agritechnica related to international machinery markets in coming editions of the paper. Columnist Kevin Hursh also discusses the event on page 11 this week.

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