John Deere Skidder History: More than a Half-Century in the Woods

June 8, 2015

More than 50 years ago, John Deere manufactured its first skidder. Ever since, the company has continued to create innovative pieces of forestry equipment that provide loggers with increased levels of safety, reliability and productivity.

John Deere Skidder 50 Years

The recent introduction of the L-Series Skidder marked 50 years of the company’s manufacturing and designing of skidders. Built on 178 years of innovation, backed by more than a half-century in the woods and designed with proven components to withstand the toughest environments, these machines are a true representation of John Deere as a manufacturer.

Marty Wilkinson, Vice President, Worldwide Forestry & Business Development, John Deere Construction & Forestry, says, “We are proud of the legacy we’ve built in the skidder business since 1965, but it doesn’t stop here. We will continue to listen to loggers, innovate and respond with machines that deliver on the most important features to our customers.”

But, where did it all begin? Let’s take a look back at John Deere’s skidder history by revisiting some of the important milestones that have led to where we are today.


The year John Deere broke into the skidder manufacturing market. Their first piece of equipment, the 440 Cable Skidder, houses 59 hp and a number of features that are designed to provide operators with comfort, safety, and an opportunity to be productive in the forest.


Deere introduces the 740 Skidder, the largest member of the family at the time. The 740 is built with 145 hp, blade and winch options, along with a best-in-class grapple.


The D-Series entered the market, featuring a new dual-function grapple with a 120-inch opening, making the 640 a well suited piece of forestry equipment for extra-large bunches.


The E-Series is launched into production with John Deere continuing to provide innovative equipment to the industry. A sealed, isolation-mounted operators’ station minimizes engine noise and keeps the cab at a comfortable working temperature. An electronic monitor displays vital machine function information, a wide wheel bases increases stability, and load-and-speed-sensing power steering delivers fast response.


The G-Series is built with wider stances and longer wheelbases to bring stability to greater levels. A new differential lock is created to be able to be engaged on the go and a new grapple plays host to individual tong cylinders that provide up to 50% more clamping force.


Deere switches from yellow to green skidders.


The H-Series is added to the family with 6.8L Tier 3 engines that are designed to reduce emissions and increase overall productivity in the forest. An automatic load detection system adjusts and maintains the grapple’s clamping force if a load is bumped.


The game is changed once again as Deere introduces its L-Series Skidders. Heavy-duty axles extend equipment life up to 15,000 hours and easy-to-use Continuous Variable Transmission delivers more power to the ground for extended engine life. Cycle times of the boom, arch, and grapple (now 25% larger) are up to 40% faster.

John Deere H-Series Skidder

For more than half a century, John Deere has been providing forestry experts with skidders that meet their demands. Hopefully this look back in time has provided a clear view of the innovations that make up John Deere’s skidder history. If you enjoyed this post or want to read others, feel free to connect with us on FacebookTwitter or Google+!