When contract harvester Gary Stockham recently began cutting sugarcane for the current season, it meant his team and machines were back running seven days a week.
“Once the machine stops, everyone stops, no one gets paid,” he said.
“So it’s very important to keep going.
“Cane is crushed in about 20 – 22 weeks, so you have to keep the work up [and] all the machinery has to be going perfectly.”
The third generation sugar farmer and his wife own 200 hectares at Giru, close to the Haughton River in North Queensland’s Burdekin district which they have farmed since around 1990, and have run Gary Stockham Harvesting since 1978.
They began with a Robot Toft Harvester, but these days they have four Case IH Austoft Sugarcane Harvesters (two 8000’s, a 7000 and a 7500 model).
The harvesters are complemented by two Case IH Magnum tractors – a two-year-old 315 and 8920.
Mr Stockham says the drawcard to buy that original Case IH harvester was their reliability compared with other brands.
“They seemed to go better, so that’s what I bought to start with,” he said.
He has maintained the allegiance ever since – but has always had a look around before buying new equipment.
“I can’t see any sense in buying anything else – they’re dearer and not as good a machine; they just cross-rip too big,” he said.
“The Austoft, the Case IH, they’ve been the best all the time. I reckon they’re the better harvesters.”
Before harvest began, Mr Stockham serviced all his equipment with his local dealer, AgNorth at Ayr.
“They look after us; they keep us going all the time,” he said.
“It’s good backup [and] if anything goes wrong they’re always there.
“If they haven’t got the part, they’ll get one in for us, or they’ll find one somewhere to keep us going; they know our gear has to keep going.
Mr Stockham also does contract planting of about 810 hectares each year which requires ground preparation as well.
“That’s the same as harvesting: if that stops, everything stops, but the dealer, with their parts and service, they keep us going,” he said.
Mr Stockham is on to Case IH Austoft harvester number 18.
“When they were just Austofts they were the best, and now they’re Case IH Austofts, they’re still the best,” he said.
“They’re not just a good price, they’re just better than any other cane harvester.”
Case IH is currently offering 0% interest, through CNH Industrial Capital, on service and repairs for tractors, balers and combines, until June 30, with full payment not due until March 2017.
The story Contractor tools up for a busy cane season first appeared on Test Site.