Cotton producer David Cochran did what any farmer with welding experience would do when his old tank rack didn't fit his new John Deere tractor.

He built his own tank rack — sturdy, strong, just how farmers like them.

“In 1994, John Deere had just come out with its 8000 Series tractors, which had a component frame,” explained Cochran, whose family farm raises cotton, rice, soybean and corn, and runs a gin near Avon, Miss.

“We used to interchange the tank racks from one year's model to the next. But this was a whole different concept in tractors.”

Cochran came up with a strong tank rack design that was easy to install. He subsequently built seven sets that year in the farm shop. The following year, he built 15 sets for neighbors. In 1996, several farmers who ran Case IH equipment asked Cochran to design a tank rack system for them.

A couple of years later, the business, now called Co Co Manufacturing, Inc., had outgrown the farm shop, and Cochran moved the operation to an empty section of a building that housed the family's ginning operation.

Today the business builds 150 tank rack systems per year.

During peak season, the operation can turn out eight sets a day and employs six men, most of whom are also gin employees.

The tank racks are formed out of quarter-inch sheet metal plating. “Almost everyone else uses some kind of square tubing that sticks straight out the side,” Cochran said. “Ours slopes up at a 45 degree angle and is all one piece bolted onto the tractor. It's not going to bend, break or fall apart.”

In addition, the racks don't create a crop clearance problem, one reason why Cochran is starting to sell more of the units to corn producers in the Midwest.

The racks are designed to allow plenty of service access to the tractor. And Cochran keeps a close on eye on quality control. “I tell anybody that I sell something to, that if there is a problem, I want to be the first one to know about it, day or night.”

The company offers front and side tank rack systems for mechanical front-wheel drive tractors (not four-wheel drive articulating tractors). They fit John Deere, Case and Caterpillar track and rubber tire tractors.

The front tank can be mounted, and the grower can still add counter-weights to the front of the tractor, noted Cochran. “That's a big question in Georgia and North Carolina, where growers run strip-till operations and need the extra weight.”

The racks are available for 250-, 300- and 400-gallon tanks.