Tractor sales powering ahead

By: Gary Northover

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April has seen another outstanding month for tractor sales across the nation, writes the TMA’s Gary Northover

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Photo: victoria2305 / istock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Tractor sales recorded solid improvement in April, setting the scene for another record year. Overall, sales were up 5 per cent in the month and now sit 8 per cent ahead on a year-to-date basis.

There appears to be a variety of explanations for this up lift ranging from a synchronisation in the refinancing cycle occurring to the positive impact of rain in some regions. Despite all of this, the industry remains cautiously optimistic as the general appetite for new deals appears to be steadying.

The 100-200hp range is behind this lift, up 31 per cent on last month and now 29 per cent ahead year-to-date. The under 40hp segment was up a further 4 per cent and now sits in line with last year; while the 40-100hp segment was steady in the month and continues to perform strongly, up 6 per cent this year.

Whilst the 100-200hp segment is flying, sales of tractors above 200hp dipped 12 per cent and now trail 2017 by 4 per cent.

Queensland and WA experienced very strong months, up 19 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Out in the west, conditions April has seen another outstanding month for tractor sales across the nation have been quite steady for some months as early season rains have reinforced confidence.

Up north, we have seen quite solid rainfalls which has also instilled confidence. Many of the orders delivered last month were placed some months ago so we don’t necessarily attribute one month’s success to recent rains; we do, however, see the impact rain has on confidence and, thus, farmers proceeding with deliveries.

The other states of NSW and Victoria were both down slightly but remain up on last year. Once again, absence of rain has dampened expectations a little, however, at the time of writing, the heavens have opened which we hope will redress this.

Elsewhere in the nation, SA reported a huge bounce, up 56 per cent on last month and 12 per cent on last year. Business was also strong in Tasmania, up 32 per cent and now up 14 per cent year-to-date. We attribute both of these results to a bump in deliveries for the month which is expected to smooth out.

Harvester sales are still yet to get going (55 units against 37 units last year), however, dealers are predicting a slower year as the impact of a lower 2017 crop combined with some new models slowly hitting the market impact.

Baler sales jumped again. We’ve now sold 69 units this year compared to 49 last year as the market slowly recovers.

The sale of out-front mowers was again strong and are now up 2 per cent on the same time last year.

Looking ahead, there is cautious optimism in the market. Challenges include the uncertain weather outlook, generally subdued commodity prices and threats of interest rate rises.

Supply of equipment will also be tight as demand in the US and Europe for agricultural product continues to grow.

Finally, the TMA is holding its annual conference this year in Sydney on July 17 and registrations are now open. We have another exciting line-up of speakers and one or two surprises in store that will make this a not to be missed event.

Gary Northover is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or gary@tma.asn.au.

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