Small tractors finish 2016 on a high

By: Gary Northover

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Small tractor in vineyard Small tractor in vineyard

Last year was another extremely good year for the industry: Tractor sales recorded their best result in over 30 years and it was the sixth consecutive year of 10,000-plus markets. The last time we saw this happen was back in the early 1980s.


Last year was another extremely good year for the industry: Tractor sales recorded their best result in over 30 years and it was the sixth consecutive year of 10,000-plus markets. The last time we saw this happen was back in the early 1980s.

Sales in December were led by the small under-40hp range (up 17 per cent for the month) along with the 40-100hp range (up 14 per cent for the month).

Much of this activity occurred in Victoria and South Australia, where a predominance of smaller ‘hobby’ farmers was apparent. Victorian sales were, in fact, up a whopping 31 per cent on last month to finish the year slightly down on 2015.

The larger end of the tractor market above 200hp took a breather in December, down 17 per cent on November but still very much in positive territory, up 9 per cent on 2015.

The 100-200hp range was again strong, in line with November and finishing the year up 7 per cent.

Around the nation, NSW reported the largest increase in sales – up 14 per cent on 2015 – while Queensland and Western Australia were once again in line with 2015.

Overall, 2016 was dominated by the volume of large tractor sales, which led to an increase of around 8 per cent year-on-year in dollar terms.

Combine harvester sales continued to grow for the third year in a row. It’s been six years since the last boom in demand and this, combined with the record winter crops of 2016, suggest that 2017 could very well be another very strong year for the sector.

Baler sales recorded their best result since 2011, capping off five years of continuous growth.

Round baler sales lifted by 15 per cent and large squares by 11.5 per cent – a record year for the latter.

Out-front mower sales continued to grow, recording another record result in 2016. What is interesting is that over the past 10 years this segment has averaged 22 per cent growth per year, and it’s the ‘zero turns’ products that provided all the growth in 2016.

Having closed the book on 2016, we now turn our attention to the future outlook. While it might be considered brave to expect a repeat of the year we have just had, the indicators are that 2017 should once again be strong.

  • On a global basis the market is still struggling, making Australia a destination of choice for most manufacturers and we should see this reflected in this year’s programs. When combined with the current low-interest-rate environment, the market should be attractive to buyers.
  • The weather forecast suggests we should see good conditions for growers again this year, and while prices remain a challenge, production levels are expected to remain strong.
  • Importantly, dealers and resellers are reporting a significant shortage of used equipment stock across the board, so prices for those considering trading up should be strong.

In late March the TMA will once again be present at Farmworld at Lardner Park in Victoria, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, so we encourage everyone to get along and support this important event.

GARY NORTHOVER is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or via email 

 

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