2018 tractor sales 4 per cent down on last year

By: Gary Northover

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Sales of agricultural tractors have finished the year down 4.1 per cent on last year

Tractor sales down 4 per cent on last year
Photo: Acnakelsy/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
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There are numerous factors driving the sales results but most believe the drought, combined with many farmers taking a more conservative stance with regards to purchasing have had the greatest effect.

After five continuous years of growth, 2018 has seen machine sales take a breather and we expect this trend to continue in 2019.

The ongoing impact of the drought in the eastern States will be felt for some time but in general, farmers are expected to view purchases a little more conservatively in the period ahead. Not unlike investors in other fields, the tightening of lending by the banks and reductions in the exchange rate, whilst good for commodity exports, will also impact.

Taking a look at the year in full, there were still in excess of 12,000 tractors reportedly sold, 12,158 in fact, which is a very strong year. It was notable that December sales were down across the board due partly to a short month restricting deliveries.

The smaller under 40hp category was down 10 per cent on last year having dropped a further 22 per cent in December. This category is dominated by the Leisure Sector and, as stated, we are seeing some pullback in demand from these customers.

The 40hp to 100hp group was down 6 per cent behind last year with a December drop of 13per cent.

The best performing category for the year continues to be the 100hp - 200hp segment, emphasising the strength of the "row cropping" market. While December was down 15 per cent for the month, the year finished 5 per cent ahead of last year.

Finally, the larger over 200hp broadacre tractors were down a further 22 per cent in December finishing the year 8 per cent behind 2017.

Not surprisingly, NSW that was hardest hit being 11 per cent behind last year, with December being a further 25 per cent down. Queensland finished the year 6 per cent down with December being 16 per cent off.

Victorian sales struggled throughout the year finishing 3 per cent behind, elsewhere, all other states reported increased sales. WA had a stellar year finishing 8.3 per cent ahead of last year. South Australia was up 2.5 per cent, Tasmania finished 9 per cent ahead, while Northern Territory was up 7 per cent.

Harvester sales for the year finished well down on 2017. There was a total of 676 unit sold which was around 200 down on last year. The conditions surrounding this market are well known and with the ordering windows now open, dealers are faced with the challenge of what to order. Needless to say, conditions are suited to savvy buyers able to take advantage of the available stock.

Baler sales had a year of recovery, up 14 per cent on the previous year as many turned to hay production in the face of dwindling crop yields.

Finally, sales of Out-Front Mowers had a down year, 15 per cent behind last year.

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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