Pull the big planter with the big 4-wheel drive tractor

If your regular MFWD planter tractor doesn’t have the ponies to pull the new 1790, you need an adapter interface between your big four-by-four tractor drawbar and the planter hitch.

Fred Dueck, founder of Schnelll Industries in Winkler, Man., has been making custom hitches for 18 years.

It started when a local corn grower bought a larger planter. After taking delivery, he realized his tractor with the three-point hitch was too small to pull the new planter.

He needed a conversion so he could hitch it to the drawbar of his big four-wheel drive tractor, with a lift mechanism built into it.

As farmers gradually moved to larger planters, demand for these custom hitches has also increased, said Schnell’s Brent Dueck in a phone interview.

“We took out some chalk and some half-inch plate and drew the hitch out on the floor. That was in the days before laser cutting and CAD and computer design. It was more like blacksmith work,” said Dueck, adding that his dad, Fred Dueck, did the work with simple hand tools.

A couple years later, when they set up their first website, they posted a photo of that one-off conversion hitch. Nothing happened for a couple years, nor did they really expect anything to happen.

Then came a phone call from Russia. A big farmer there had bought three 1770 planters, and later realized he needed some way to pull them with a drawbar hitch. He found Schnell on the internet and called.

“All of a sudden, four years later the phone really started ringing. Word had gotten around about these planter hitches and we were taking orders and building them in big numbers. From seven or eight per year up to 75 or 100 per year.

“You’d think all 1770 planters are built the same, but they’re not. There are little differences that made things difficult. That’s when we realized we had to standardize and design just one universal hitch to fit all John Deere planters.

“What we do is slide the two-point hitch off the planter. It’s just pinned on. Our hitch slides on in the same position, and we pin it in place, and that’s it. Complete. You’re converting a two-point over to a drawbar with a parallel arm system to raise and lower the front of the planter on your drawbar instead of your three-point hitch.”

Dueck said some four-wheel drive tractors come from the factory with a three-point hitch, but there are areas like Kansas where farmers buy bare-back four wheel tractors. He said adding a three-point hitch to those tractors will cost the grower $15,000 to $20,000. At a list price of $7,450, the Schnell hitch seems a good deal.

The word “schnell” in German means quick. And quick is how Fred Dueck describes his response to customer requests.

So what happened to the Russian farmer with three JD planters and a 14-day deadline to deliver the custom hitches? Fred tells the story.

“This was late spring and he had thousands of acres to plant and needed to start 14 days from the date he called. We dropped everything we were doing. These Russia hitches were for a model we had not yet dealt with, so we searched for a 1770 planter to take measurements.

“We designed the 1770 hitch, built all three units and air freighted them to Vladivostok. The farmer in Russia had a 24-hour road trip to the port city. So while his hitches were in flight, he drove to the airport and got them a couple hours after they arrived. He arrived back at his farm with his hitches on the 14th day, so he was on schedule.”

Schnell currently builds hitches to fit the John Deere, Case IH and Ago White planters. More models are on the drawing board. Installation is easy and quick without cutting or welding. The planter can easily be changed back to its original setup if desired.

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