Farmers are once again buying big.

Whether it’s half-million-dollar combines or $200,000 tractors, they are investing in the future of their farms.

And equipment dealers at this week’s Spokane Ag Expo have taken notice. The biggest machines are back in force for the annual show, which for several years had gradually featured more and more equipment and services for smaller farms.

“Farmers had a good year,” said Myrna J. O’Leary, manager of Spokane Ag Bureau and Spokane Ag Expo, which hosts the three-day show beginning this morning at the Spokane Convention Center.

Across much of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, wheat farmers harvested a good crop that suddenly became more valuable as fires scorched grain fields in Russia. Some estimate that in Washington alone the crop would fetch upward of $750 million.

The good economics and a string of sunny cold days are expected to help draw a big crowd, perhaps up to 6,000 people, O’Leary said.

“We expect to see a lot of farmers who may be looking at updating their machinery,” said Ryan Moser, service manager for St. John Hardware, one of the region’s large farm machinery dealers.

The company is showcasing its new Case IH 8120 combine, a hulking red piece of machinery that beckons passers-by to climb the ladder and sit in a driver’s chair fit for a captain.

Lloyd Walker has been showing used trucks and trailers for two decades at the show. The Great Falls general manager of Bouma Truck Sales said the show collects the right mix of farmers and drivers curious about buying and those ready to finance a new rig.

“We’ve had a strong year in Montana, too,” he said. “When farming does well, so do the surrounding communities.”

In preparation for the big show, workers climbed all over the machines, wiping down side panels, polishing tires that stand taller than people, and cleaning mowers and tillers that have never been dragged across a field.

Doug Mann, who is showing the new Gleaner Super7 combine, expects many of the region’s farmers to consider upgrading their equipment.

“It was that kind of year,” he said. “That’s not always the case.”