You've always run a six-row cornhead. Trucks waited on you this year because the corn was poor. In some years, you have waited on the trucks. But as you've grown, you've added trucks. You still have only one grain cart, however, and you don't intend to trade for a larger one. It holds 1,000 bushels, about what a semi holds. Trading for a bigger cart isn't in your budget, and you don' want more want more weight than that on the ground at any one time anyway.
Now you're trading to a larger combine with more capacity. It will handle an eight-row or a 12-row cornhead. Since you plant using auto-steer, matching rows to planter size isn't an issue any longer. Which choice makes sense?
The first decision to make could be to decide if you're buying new or used. If you buy new, a 12-row heads will obviously be more expensive. If you're buying used, that theory may not hold up. If you find a 12-row head in an area where most people still run 8 –row heads or smaller, you might get a good deal on a used 12-row head.
Next, what about maintenance costs? Obviously, you've got more row units to keep in shape with a 12-row head, but each row will run over less acreage in a season compared to each row of an 8-row head covering the same acreage.
What about maneuverability? You're going to need a carrier to go down the road for either head. Do you have very small fields where a 12-row is a problem? Or do you have long fields where you might not be able to make a complete round because the 12 rows fills up the grain tank faster. If that's the case and you still like the idea of a 12-row, are bin extensions to the hopper available for your model? Are they an economical option? Some short-line companies offer extensions for certain models of combines as well. On the very newest combines in some line-ups, bin extensions that open automatically from the cab will be an option. Extensions typically add about 100 bushels or slightly more to hopper capacity.
The other factor is keeping carts and trucks moving. If you lean to the 12-row head but the combine sits considerable lengths of time until yours system can handle the grain, how much have you gained? On the other hand, can you streamline your system at minimal expense and handle more corn, such as you might expect to get per hour form a 12-row head.The bottom line is obvious- think through all possible scenarios before you decide.