Tractor sales steady in May

By: Gary Northover

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The TMA's Gary Northover says agricultural tractor sales in May recorded another solid month, maintaining the march towards another record year

Tractors line up in a show for sale
Tractor sales steady in May, Photo:  SweetyMommy / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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Overall tractor sales now sit 8 per cent ahead on a year-to-date basis. We are also well past the 12,000 tractor sales mark for the third year in a row.

The strength of the market continues to be found in the mid-horsepower range, with the 100-200hp range up 7.5 per cent on last month and now 23 per cent ahead on the year to date.

The 40-100hp sector was solid again, up 6 per cent and continues to perform strongly.

By contrast, sales of larger tractors in the above 200hp range has once again slipped behind last year’s mark, down a sizeable 26 per cent  in May and now 8 per cent behind year to date.

Meanwhile, the under 40hp range gave up its April gains, down 4 per cent, which positions the range 2 per cent behind last year.

Attempts to interpret the factors behind these results can be a bit difficult as larger tractors in particular tend to be ordered against longer lead times, so decisions made late last year are significant in terms of current deliveries.

What we do know is that sales of hay tools are down, the dairy industry is steady, the cost of money is rising, and weather patterns across the nation have varied significantly.

Furthermore, many in the industry are asking the question: "Just how many new tractors can the market absorb in one year?"

We know that the number of individual farms has dropped over recent years, as has land usage, so at some point we ought to see a level of saturation, albeit short term in nature. No doubt the position will become clearer in the months ahead.

Around the nation, business remains brisk in WA, up another 19 per cent this month and now 10 per cent ahead of last year. 

Sales in Victoria were off 5 per cent and are now slightly ahead of last year, while NSW & SA we up another 16 per cent for the month.

The only significant drop off was in Queensland which, after a number of positive months, dropped 15 per cent for the month but remains 7 per cent up on last year.

Sales of harvesters are still yet to get going (63 units against 42 units last year), however dealers are generally predicting a slower year this year thanks to a lower 2017 crop combined with some new models slowly hitting the market.

Baler sales did dip in May, however we’ve now sold 81 units this year compared to 72 last year as the market slowly recovers from what was an ‘off’ year last year.           

The sale of out-front mowers was down for the first time in recent memory and is now in line with the same time last year.

Finally, the TMA is holding its annual conference this year in Sydney on July 17th at the Novotel Brighton Le Sands and registrations are building.

We have another exciting lineup 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

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