Harvesting equipment can be expensive to purchase and maintain, especially for small-scale operations. Custom harvesters bring combines and other equipment to your farm so you don’t need to buy and maintain your own equipment.

Custom harvesters work for numerous farms throughout the harvesting season. They use their equipment more often than a single farming operation does, which drastically reduces the per-acre cost of owning a combine. Since their cost per acre is low, they can provide affordable custom harvesting services to farmers.

Ag Service Finder’s map of custom harvesters will help you find a harvesting crew in your area. Enter your location to find a custom harvester.

Find a Custom Harvester Near You

What is Custom Harvesting?

Custom harvesting, also known as custom combining, is an agricultural business that provides harvesting services to farmers who do not have the resources or equipment to do it themselves. Custom harvesters bring their own crew, combines, trucks, and other equipment to harvest crops for the farmer.

Most new combines can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, therefore purchasing one can drive down your profits. For smaller operations, purchasing a combine can drastically reduce your bottom line.

Farmers using custom harvesting services do not need to purchase the equipment themselves. Since custom harvesters work for many farms throughout the season, they can charge affordable rates for harvesting.

How Much Does Custom Harvesting Cost?

combine harvesting corn

To determine how much you could save by hiring a custom harvesting crew, you’ll need to know how much custom harvesting costs. The cost will vary depending on the custom harvester, your location, the services you need, and much more, so you’ll need to contact a custom harvester to get an accurate quote.

Although, the chart below is an example of how much custom harvesting costs. Use this information to give you an idea of the money you could save by hiring a custom harvester.

Custom Harvesting Costs (Iowa, 2019*)Average Charge
Corn Combining (Combine Only)$35.95 / acre
Corn Combining (Complete Harvesting**)54.10 / acre
Soybean Combining (Combine Only)35.10 / acre
Soybean Combining (Complete Harvesting**)51.55 / acre
Small Grain Combining31.90 / acre

*Data from 2019 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. Although this is data for the state of Iowa, it can give an overall respresentation of custom harvesting rates, especially for neighboring states.

**Combine, grain cart, haul to farm storage

Compare the total cost of owning, operating, and maintaining your harvesting equipment to the custom harvesting rates to find which method is the least expensive.

Custom Harvesting Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to hiring a custom harvester; the effects of which vary depending on the size of your operation.


  • Reduced cost per acre
  • Reduced workload

By using a custom harvester, your cost per acre can be significantly reduced for several reasons. You won’t need to spend money on a combine and other equipment, which will save you a large chunk of change. Additionally, you won’t need to spend time or money on the maintainence of that equipment. Find a custom harvester in near you.

Saving money is not the only benefit though. You will save a lot of time throughout the year by hiring a custom harvester. The most obvious time-saving benefit is the time spent harvesting in the field, but this isn’t the only factor. You’ll also save time since you’ll have less equipment to maintain. Since you’re responsible for the upkeep of your machinery, you’ll be spending time buying parts, fixing, and maintaining it.


  • Reduced benefits for large-scale operations
  • Risk of spoilage

Hiring a custom harvester may not be worth it for larger operations. Since you have more acres to harvest, the cost per acre of owning and maintaining your machinery may be less than hiring a custom harvester. Although you’ll still save time by hiring out, you’ll need to determine if this is truly worth the cost. Find a custom harvester, get a quote, and determine if hiring a custom harvester is worth it for your situation.

A risk when hiring a custom harvester is the risk of crop spoilage. Spoilage of your crops can occur if harvested too late. Custom harvesters can become very busy during the harvest season, therefore you risk crop spoilage if you are unable to find a custom harvester who is available at the time you need them. Luckily, Ag Service Finder has hundreds of custom harvesters to choose from, which will help you find one who is available at the time you need.