A celebration of ‘100 Years of Row Crop Tractors’ is expected to attract a unique collection of exhibits at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show this year, held 4-5 November at the Newark Showground.

Rather than a brand, the specially-themed class focuses on a tractor ‘concept’ originating from the 1930s in the USA, where the machines were traditionally three-wheeled to straddle rows in the field and were often set high off the ground to clear crops like maize or cotton.

The wide range of tractor makes qualifying for this class, like Allis Chalmers, Massey-Harris, Fordson, John Deere and Farmall to name a few, promises to attract entries never exhibited at the show before, says Paul Ducksbury of the show’s organising committee.

“Many of the tractors we’ll see will be classic ‘row crop’ configuration, with two small wheels in front, spaced together to create a tricycle tractor,” he explains.

Paul himself is bringing five exhibits – a 1947 Fordson, two International Harvesters and two John Deeres – and has high hopes of the range of vehicles that will be on display in this class.

One of the furthest-flung entries for this special class at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show is from Larry Roers of Minnesota, USA, who has teamed up with Worcester-based vintage tractor importer Richard Keel to bring over a 1966 Ford 4000 Rowcrop (4200) specially for the event – and will be flying over to attend in person.

According to Richard, the tractor was made for North American market and features a longer wheelbase than UK counterparts, higher clearance for row crop work, and a flat deck operating platform to let the driver sit much higher to give better visibility.

“When new, it would’ve been used in the production and growing of corn – what we call maize – and soybeans,” explains Richard.

“But advances in both machinery and growing techniques meant tractors like this became outdated within a few years, so they ended up on light duties around the yard.”

The restored 1941 John Deere Model B Row Crop, with Peter Moules, who passed away in 2022 but worked for the Beba family most of his life, at the wheel

Other entries include a 1941 John Deere model B row crop tractor owned by Wisbech farmer Bryan Beba, and shown by fellow enthusiast Gordon Carson. Gordon, who has exhibited at every Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show apart from the first, says this John Deere is special to him, as it was the one that first got him and Bryan into the world of restoring and showing vintage tractors.

“Bryan’s father had it from new. It then sat in the back of the shed until the late ’90s, when I suggested getting it out and seeing if we could get it going. It was the most expensive suggestion of our lives! Now we have quite a prestigious collection,” he adds.

With John Deere the predominant tractor brand in the USA over the last 100 years, it’s not surprising they are a strong presence in this category. Henry and Margaret Dixon from Pembrokeshire will be bringing a 1963 John Deere Hi Crop row crop tractor they bought 20 years ago after spotting it in a dealership while on holiday in South Dakota.

The 92hp tractor, of which only 170 were made, was originally built for working with cotton and sugar cane, and has wide front and back axles for row cropping and carrying a cultivator underneath.

Also making the journey from Pembrokeshire will be Wyn Mathias with his 1941 Allis Chalmers Model C. He’s been showing tractors since he was a child, but this will be only his fourth year at the Newark event, making him a relative newcomer.

From new, his tractor was on potato harvest duties in Wyn’s local area, mainly fitted with ‘ridgers’ to open drills for planting the potatoes and covering them up.

“It was bought by my grandfather in a poor state. He stripped the engine but it then got left for several years. Aged 14, I started to take interest in the tractor and my grandfather said if I could get it going, I could have it.”

Main image: The Beba family’s John Deere model B, being shown by Gordon Carson, at work in 1949 and featuring farmworker Peter Moules (seated)

Read more on the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show here

More news like this can be found in The Country Smallholder magazine. Subscribe here.

For FREE updates from the world of smallholding, sign up for The Country Smallholder newsletter here.