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What price for grubbing mesquite?

Discussion in 'Skid Steers' started by tmc_31, May 16, 2013.

  1. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Hey guys,

    I may have an interesting job going (for me anyway, I'm easily entertained:D). A fellow called me last week and asked me to give him a price to grub and rake mesquite on a 33 acre pasture. I have a single point grubber that fits on my skid steer (NH L190) to work with. I have grubbed some of this sized and larger mesquite before, so I do have some idea what I'm getting into. However it was for a friend and was a freebee. I told the land owner that I would have to look at the pasture first.

    Well, I went and looked. The pasture is fairly flat with mostly small (less than 5' tall to just showing above ground) mesquite and some clumps of Russian Thistle (that's what the owner called it). As far as density for the mesquites there is maybe 400-500 plants per acre, for the Russian Thistle maybe 150 clumps per acre. The mesquite had been treated with remedy about five years ago and maybe 2/3s of it is dead but still standing. The rest is alive and kicking. The Russian Thistle is all new growth.

    The owner wants me to grub out the mesquite and the thistle and pile it in several smaller piles (maybe 2 piles per five acres) for later burning by him. My plan is to rent a root rake to mount on the skid steer for the clean-up.

    My questions are, what should I charge him for this service? What is the going rate for this type of work around the country?

    This job is near my home in West Texas so all you guys in the southwest who have experienced the pleasures of grubbing mesquite please chime in.

    Thanks,

    Tim
     
  2. Paw Paws Toy

    Paw Paws Toy Member

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    I have been grubbing mesquites on my property near Mason since 2002 with a skid steer. Many factors enter into grubbing mesquites. 1. Moisture in the ground. 2. Type of soil (few rocks). 3. Depth of soil. 4. Types of mesquites (small, just came up; sprouts off of stumps, large trees). 5. Buried pipe lines, etc. 6. Height of grass, weeds, etc.

    Better charge a arm and a leg per hour. Much wear and tear on the machine. Keep the machine greased. Must HATE mesquites!

    Don
     
  3. Lindsey97

    Lindsey97 Well-Known Member

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    i cleaned up approx. 70 acres of mesquite in mesquite texas in march 2005. now i know how the place got its name. i didnt own a skid steer then, and used my D4c dozer. what a nightmare. they werent very big, but were hellish tough. when i got the dozer back home, we took an air chisel and cleaned the tracks out. thank god i dont have any mesquite on my property in oklahoma. think i was charging $65/hr. back then.

    i have heard of people using a stump bucket with grapple on mesquites with success. i have a 4 in 1 bucket on my case 70xt and would like to see if it would pull up mesquites as i do with other trees. i would like to try a turbosaw from hinton,ok.

    i currently charge $75/hr. 5hr min. with case 70xt, and upcharge for attachments such as trencher or brush hog. i charge $80/hr 8hr. min. for my Cat D4c.

    hope this helps ya out.
     
  4. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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    An excavator with a mesquite grubber attachment is the way to go. I used to use a dozer, but an excavator is many, many times faster. I know you want to use what ya got, but I'm not sure you'll be competitive. You don't have to have a big excavator either with that size growth, you could rent one to grub then use SS to pile and clean up.

    We just built our own grubbers out of good hard 3/4" steel(not T1 but A340 or something like that, ask a machine shop) and then used a scraper cutting edge for the ground engaging part. I'd be glad to share a design with you.

    We did 2200 acres of federal land clearing for two migratory birds. If I didn't hate them then, I do now.
     
  5. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Hey guys,

    Paw Paw's Toys, I installed the lighting system on the Mason football field a few years ago (my day job:D) so I am very familiar with the area. Spent about two weeks there in the city park camp ground. The land on this job just south of Cross Plains is just about the same. I will have all the same issues you mention (even two gas pipelines to deal with) except the large trees. The owner wants to leave the large trees. There are about 15 large trees on the 33 acres. He is raising Buffalo and wants to put the pasture in grass.

    Lindsey97, thanks for the pricing suggestions, I have been charging $65/hr plus an up charge for any equipment that I have to rent. Good luck with the 4n1 bucket, I would be interested in how well that works for you. I have never used one.

    d9gdon, wow, 2200 acres is a big job by anyone's standards:eek: Did you grub & pile or did you mulch? If it is a fair question, about what did the cost per acre to the owner turn out to be? Was it the birds or the mesquites you hated? Or both? I have thought about using an excavator but most of the guys around here use 320 sized machines (which I have no experience with) and up around here for grubbing large trees. I wonder if a 4 or 5 ton machine (which I do have some experience with) with a thumb would do any good on the smaller trees like what I will be taking out.

    Well , I start tomorrow. I am gonna use the skid just because it's what I have. I cut a deal with him for an hourly rate for however long it takes (or until he tells me to quit). I will be tracking my production so the data will help me estimate future jobs. I will share the results if anyone is interested.

    Meanwhile I am open to any suggestions or criticisms , so keep em coming.

    Thanks,

    Tim
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2013
  6. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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    That pricing per acre wouldn't be relevant to your deal because of all the insurance and bonding. A hand crew had to come behind us and pick up anything bigger than your forearm as well and then we had to cut maneuver lanes through the bigger hardwoods. A lot of the acreage was just bigger cedar trees. Some parts were clear, some were thick as hair. Grubbed and stacked into certain size piles and had to be a certain distance from habitat area and roads and trails and fences and other boundaries.

    I think a smaller excavator like that would work on the size you're going after as long as it's not regrowth trees. I don't have enough experience with a small one to say for sure.

    I think he's gonna have quite a bit in this project though. I'm thinking $800-$1000 an acre by the time you stack it like he wants???

    Was this land burned back a couple of years ago when all the wildfires were burning in Cross Plains? It might be regrowth...
     
  7. Lindsey97

    Lindsey97 Well-Known Member

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    d9gdon: i would love to see pictures of your excavator grubber.

    i just installed a hyd. thumb on my takeuchi tb135, have yet to pull up any trees with it. hoping it will work on fence rows with small elms and cedars.

    i have used my 4in1 bucket to pluck approx. 20 trees out of a fencerow. trees were elm and cedar, about pop can diameter, some were bigger, and i managed to pull all of them without breaking a single wire in the fence. i highly recommend a 4in1 for anybody with a decent sized skid steer. they are very useful on the farm and jobsite.
     
  8. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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  9. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Nice looking grubber d9gdon. I would like to see the improvements you made when you can share them

    Tim
     
  10. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Well, first day behind me. I grubbed 5 acres today. 10 hours on site today including an hour for lunch. 8 hrs of machine time on the clock. Wow my knees are sore. Looks like about 6 hrs of machine time per day is all I am going to be able to do. The mesquite I was taking out ranged from 5-6' tall down to just sprouting and above ground. Most were dead (from poisoning about 5 years ago with remedy), some new growth and about 15-20% regrowth from old trees that had been pushed some years ago. The dead stuff and new growth came out pretty good. I was able to get the tap root in most cases and got the basel bud in the rest. I had to work on the regrowth. Getting that stump out takes some time.

    My plan is to grub all 33 acres then rent a root rake and pile all the debris.

    Here is a picture of my machine and the grubber that I am using.

    DSC02722.jpg

    All in all I was pretty pleased with the progress today.

    Anybody used a Root N All Grubber? Or even seen one?

    DSC02722.jpg

    Looks like it might be a step up from what I am using.

    All the best,

    Tim
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  11. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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    Good progress. It's going a lot faster than I estimated, but the dead ones come out a lot easier.

    Nice machine and I like that grubber. A good simple design.
     
  12. Lindsey97

    Lindsey97 Well-Known Member

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    the root-n-all grubber looks very interesting and effective.
     
  13. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Went for 6 hrs today. Yesterday I was going full tilt boogie, today I backed off some. It was easier on the skid and the body. For some reason, NH didn't think to include a tach on the L190. So there is no way to tell how much power your producing except by feel. In fact, the lights light up only if there is something wrong. The only digital readout is the hour meter. Anyway, production was only slightly less.

    Thanks D9gdon, I have been real happy with the skid. I bought it around July of last year. The grubber works very well.

    Lindsey97, the Root N All grubbers are made in Boerne Tx, they are around $6000.00 so I want to try one (give it a good workout) before springing for it. I called them the other day, they said they sold one near me in Abilene to the ASCO Rental place which in turn sold it to one of their customers. I am trying to find out who bought it.

    The other thing I am having issues with is traction. When I get hold of a fair sized Mesquite, the tire will spin. I am considering springing for some over the tire tracks. I have been looking at the "Affordable Tracks". On the other hand, the lack of traction may be keeping me from destroying my machine.

    Tim
     
  14. wrwtexan

    wrwtexan Senior Member

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    Just finished grubbing scattered cedars on 250 acres of blackland. I used my tree shear to pull them. Opened it up just enough for the trunk to slide to the back of the blades, then I rolled it forward as if to dump and lifted up. I had looked at a root buck but could see from videos that traction would be an issue. Pulling with my shear worked perfectly. I was pulling roots and all for grain farming prep. I may be low, but I am charging $60 per hour with my NH LS180 and Mighty Axe.
     
  15. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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    One of my buddies used Loegering tracks on all his skid steers. He really liked them.
     
  16. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    wrwtexan,

    A few years ago I rented a shear to use with my LX565 to clear fence line for a buddy. I was surprised how well it worked. I never thought of using a shear to pull trees. It looks like that by capturing the tree right above the ground line and then rocking forward, the leverage would allow you to exert tremendous pressure to uproot the tree. I am thinking that the Root N All will give me the same advantage (only you would rock it the other way). 250 acres is a lot of ground to cover with a skid steer! You say you are charging $60/hr for your machine and the shear, did you charge your customer by the hour or did you give him a contract price for the entire job or by the acre? Were you just grubbing and leaving the trees on the ground where they lay or did you rake and pile them? How long did it take you to cover the 250 acres?

    d9gdon,

    Did he buy the VTS system or were they the over the tire tracks? I bought a new set of McLarens for my LX565 (which I have since sold) and the worked very well. I did a swimming pool demo with the 565 and running on the broken concrete just about destroyed the rubber on the tracks. Won't do that again. This time I will do steel tracks.

    Tim
     
  17. d9gdon

    d9gdon Senior Member

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    Just the over the tire kind...
     
  18. tmc_31

    tmc_31 Senior Member

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    Hey Guys,

    I finished grubbing 20 of the 33 acres that my customer wanted me to clean up. He asked me to stop grubbing and go ahead and rake the 20 acres into small piles so he could burn them before a burn ban was put in place.

    The 20 acres of grubbing took a little over 46 hrs. That is an average of 2.3 hours per acre. Not too bad I think.

    The raking is another story. I am using a rock bucket, as I cannot seem to rent a root rake for the skid. No rental companies in the area have them available. The only way I can use the rock bucket is to angle the tip down and run backwards. It is much slower than I thought. I thought I could make an acre an hour raking but it is more like 2.5hrs per acre. So far I’ve raked about 7 acres. I had a chat with my customer it looks like I am going to build a root rake. I will space the tines a little closer than normal so I can pick up smaller debris than a normal root rake will. The other problem with the rock bucket is that it seems to pick up way too much dirt.

    Here is a picture of the pasture after grubbing and before raking
    IMG_0426.JPG

    And after raking
    IMG_0427.JPG

    Here are some of the residents of the pasture
    IMG_0434.JPG

    Tim
     
  19. wrwtexan

    wrwtexan Senior Member

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    tmc 31

    I charge by the hour as I don't do enough of it to bid closely and conditions vary too much for me to risk bidding a job. The 250 acres (estimated out of 550) took 16 hours but the trees were widely scattered and no thick. As far as dealing with them, I had my father follow me in my 8 yard dumptruck which I would load them into for him to haul to a ditch. I did add a charge for the truck. Piling would have taken far too long and my butt wouldn't have stood the rough ground again. The benefit I see to the shear is that I don't have to dig them out, I can if I need to as it is a dual blade pointed which can act as a shovel, and then I can pinch them to load if necessary. As far as a root rake, my grapple with the claws open and drug backward works well for cleanup. If you look at a grapple, try to get one with flat tines instead of those that turn up at the ends as it can be run on the rests and will slide into and out from under a pile easier (bought upturned and modified to flat after using).
     
  20. mitch504

    mitch504 Senior Member

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    250 acres in 16 hrs must be a typo, isn't it?
    Or, the trees were very widely scattered.