We all want to squeeze as much life as possible out of our farm machinery and implements, and in some cases, that means going more than just years or decades: It means lasting generations. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Kinze’s first grain cart, the company launched a contest in 2021 to find the oldest one still in production. Turns out, there are two Kinze carts going back to that first year.
After building a prototype cart in 1971, Kinze founder Jon Kinzenbaw manufactured the first production run of eight, 400-bushel grain carts and quickly sold them all. Contest winners Michael Douglas from Henry County, Kentucky, and Jeremy Smart from Peebles, Ohio, each own carts from that historic first run.
Douglas, who farms with his dad and operates a welding and repair shop, found his cart at a Kentucky dealer. The family had just purchased a tractor-trailer rig to haul grain, but it was getting stuck in the field. Finding a solution for getting grain to the road was important for a successful harvest, so they obtained the Kinze cart.
“Only had the one breakdown,” Douglas said. “Other than that, I check the oil in the gearbox, hook onto it and go, that’s about it. I’ve got a grain cart that’s 50 years old and it’s still in the field, so it’s pretty high quality.”
Smart’s grain cart was purchased by his brother-in-law at a farm sale about 10 years ago. After a few years, however, he needed a cart with a hydraulic auger fold, so he sold it to Smart.
“Apparently my ship has finally come in and they give out awards for keeping old equipment running,” Smart quipped. “Obviously, it was manufactured well, and I am quite certain the original augers were in it until three years ago when I re-flighted them.”
The two-wheel cart manufactured in 1971 established Kinze as a leader in grain-handling technology. It included larger tires to help prevent it from getting stuck in wet fields and a high-speed auger enabling the cart to be unloaded in just three minutes. It was the first of many Kinze innovations over the years to help farmers make planting and harvesting more efficient.
As the grand prize contest winners, Douglas, Smart and their guests traveled to Kinze’s corporate headquarters in Williamsburg, Iowa where they enjoyed a private meet-and-greet with Jon Kinzenbaw, toured the Kinze Innovation Center and factory, and were treated to a private tour of Jon’s tractor collection. In addition, they received a signed copy of Kinzenbaw’s book, 50 Years of Disruptive Innovation, and a promotional card to the Kinze store.