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Pre-Purchase Advice Please

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Agman, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. Agman

    Agman LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 3

    I am new here. I am not a commercial user. I have to cut about 20 acres on my farm with plenty of trees but also plenty of open-field mowing ... relatively smooth but a few rough spots. The mowing would be mostly pasture, the edges of crop fields, around the house and other buildings and other miscellaneous ... nothing too difficult. The land is mostly flat with some rolling areas that result in a few slightly steep but very short hills (like a ditch bank). I have been using a finishing mower behind a tractor but mowing around the trees and other trimming (like along buildings) are a pain and time consuming. So I want to get a zero-turn mower. I want to get a 72" model so I can get as much done as quickly as possible. There is no place where the wider deck would be a problem so why not go for max area per pass? During the peak growing season, I could mow about 12 hours a week ... usually in 2 or 3 sessions across the week ... max might be 8 hours in any given day. So here are my questions:

    1. Rear discharge or side discharge? I know rear would give me two trim sides but also might leave a carpet of clippings (which I wouldn't care about except around the house). I have read that rear discharge puts less load on the engine because the clippings just go straight out. Any other things to consider? BTW, the grass is a mixture of large bahaia areas, bermuda areas, fescue areas, weeds, etc.

    2. Gasoline engine or diesel? I have a diesel tank on the farm to fill tractors, etc., so a diesel would be convenient but the cost is considerably more. Would I wear out a gasoline engine? (assuming I keep up with all maintenance). Also, what size engine should I look for to drive a 72" deck where the grass might get to 6-8" at times?

    3. I thought I would keep it generic and not get into brands (like with ag tractors, everyone has their favorites) but, if you can vouch for the power and durability of something specific, please do.

    Anything else I should be thinking about? This is a one-shot deal for me and I have to get it right.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Lordtimothy

    Lordtimothy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Just to start off. I hate 72'' mowers period. They just scalp the ground way to much even if it is trash ground you are mowing. Most of the commercial mowers will mow 2 acres a hour plus if you use a 60'' and bigger.

    Rear discharge has to many clipping issues. Side discharge is the way to. It does tall grass much better than rear discharge in my experence.

    Gas or Diesel is personal preference. Just don't go lower than 32hp on a 72''. Hate underpowered mowers. If fuel usage is not a issue get the biggest engine you can get on the mower.

    When you go look at mowers pay attention to the specs and make sure you do your research. Look at the top mowing speeds if you are just interested in getting the grass cut and not quality. Check your dealers around and demo demo demo till you find the right machine then recheck your research.

  3. Razorblades

    Razorblades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,162

    Go with side discharge deck.

    Either diesel or gas will be fine as long as you get enough power for that size deck. I would go with 28 hp minimum (but would prefer over 30 hp) for the diesel and 33 HP minimum for the gas powered mower. Kawasaki, Briggs and Stratton (Vanguard series), Kohler and Generac all make good Big Block engines for these applications.

    There are serveral brands of diesel engines available for these Zero turn mowers, namely; Kubota, Caterpiller, Yanmar and a couple more brands. In your circumstances (if you keep diesel on site) I would probably lean towards the diesel, but either will do the job.

    I have a neighbor that cuts his 6-8 acres with a 72" ZT and it does a pretty good job with hardly any scalping at all. Once you get used to using a 72" deck you will figure out the best techniques for the varied terrains that you will use it on.

    With the type of mowing that you're talking about, with a majority being mostly Bahia in the pastures, I'm assuming, make sure to demo them in the Bahia, as that will be the toughest to cut clean in the hot summer. About all of the mower brands that you will consider will cut Bermuda and fescue pretty well but there are a few brands that probably will be superior when cutting the tough Bahia when it starts getting dry.

    Of course the main thing with cutting Bahia clean is SHARP blades. You can get by for a while with semi-dull to dull blades on some types of grass or weeds but not on Bahia.

    Good Luck, Razorblades.
  4. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Messages: 2,869

    I would look for a BadBoy dealer because they have the best price on a diesel
    mowers. Check prices on their website badboymowers.com

    Otherwise spend more and get a Kubota or grasshopper but the best money is probably BB if you have a dealer near you.
  5. alanauer

    alanauer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    The purchase outlay is once, whereas fuel and maintenance costs are ongoing, which is where diesels shine (especially if you get road-tax-free diesel and it's not so easy to get the tax rebate on gasoline).

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