Tractor sales holding in tough conditions

By: Gary Northover

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Sales of tractors were steady in April, but still 10 per cent lower than the average, according to the latest TMA data

Tractor sales holding in tough conditions
Tractor sales continued to be steady in April. Image courtesy Alamy.


Agricultural tractor sales continue to occur at a steady pace across the nation, albeit at levels still around 10 per cent below last year, according to data released by the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA).

Deliveries in the month of April were seriously impacted by the Easter/Anzac Day public holidays so we shouldn’t read too much into one month’s data.

The TMA cut its 2019 tractor sales forecast in its March report. Check out our story here

That said, across the states, it is very much a mixed bag at present with Western Australia a particular standout.

Sales there were up 19 per cent for the month and remain around 10 per cent ahead of last year.

Victoria staged something of a recovery with sales up 12 per cent in the month, driven largely by the under 40 horsepower segment, though sales remain 7 per cent behind last year.

The picture in drought-affected NSW and Queensland remains pretty grim with NSW down 15 per cent for the month, 23 per cent down year to date and Queensland 34 per cent behind in April, now 13 per cent behind last year.

Elsewhere, South Australia continues to struggle, 25 per cent behind last year, Tasmanian sales are 10 per cent up and sales to the Northern territory are 50 per cent ahead of last year!

The smaller end of the range under 40 hp showed a reasonable result for the month, behind 3 per cent and now 10 per cent behind for the year. Each of the other ranges (40hp -10hp, 100hp-200hp and 200hp and above) experienced drops in April and are down around 10-15 per cent for the year.

The outlook for tractor sales remains fairly conservative. Whilst it is presently raining in many parts of the nation, there will undoubtedly be a tail to this drought where sales activity in the hardest hit regions will take some time to heat up again.

Dealers are generally reporting that their order banks are dwindling somewhat further supporting this view.

Combine Harvester sales are also in for a pretty tough time, with estimates in the range of 550 units to be sold in Australia this year. This is down from the mid 800’s level of the past few years.

The only bright light for the industry seems to be in the area of baler sales, particularly large square balers.

This has been seen before in times of drought where failed crops are turned into fodder but additionally the growth in export oat sales to countries such as Korea and Japan is spurring activity. Overall, baler sales are now 20 per cent up on last year.

Finally, sales of out front mowers had a reasonable month, now sitting around 19 per cent down on a yearly basis.

Planning is well underway for the annual TMA Conference, to be held at on July 16 at Hyatt Place Melbourne at Essendon Fields. Tickets are now available and can be found on the TMA website

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