By GARY NORTHOVER, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Trac­tor and Ma­chin­ery As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia.

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - FRONT PAGE -

IT would ap­pear the steam is be­gin­ning to run out for sales of agri­cul­tural equip­ment across Aus­tralia, with sales steady­ing and sen­ti­ment be­gin­ning to soften.

It is clear that the var­i­ous, well pub­li­cised weather events that have been oc­cur­ring across the coun­try are now hav­ing an im­pact, as ex­pec­ta­tions for an­other record sea­son have been well and truly damp­ened.

Septem­ber saw trac­tor sales in line with last month and 10 per cent ahead on a year to date ba­sis.

The month was dom­i­nated by the 100-200hp cat­e­gory, which was up 17 per cent and ahead 13 per cent year to date.

This seg­ment seems to be driven by ac­tiv­ity in the dairy sec­tor, where in­ter­est in this size range has been strong for some time.

The un­der 40hp range was down 10 per cent on last month, the first monthly fall we have seen for some time, but still up 12.5 per cent for the year.

It is in this seg­ment, more gen­er­ally, that a level of sat­u­ra­tion may fi­nally be oc­cur­ring.

While the fun­da­men­tals un­der­pin­ning this mar­ket, known as the leisure mar­ket, are still strong, buy­ing ac­tiv­ity has been hec­tic for some time and some in the in­dus­try are sug­gest­ing that a tem­po­rary lull may be oc­cur­ring.

De­mand for trac­tors in the other two size ranges, 40100hp and 200hp and above, was in line with last month and 5-7 per cent up on last year.

Across the na­tion, Queens­land sales were once again strong, 12 per cent up on last month and the same amount on last year.

South Aus­tralia had a par- tic­u­larly strong month, up 30 per cent and now placed 10 per cent up on the same time last year.

New South Wales was steady, re­flect­ing the vari­able weather con­di­tions be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced there, and after a slow start and some late rain, Western Aus­tralian sales bounced up slightly on last month.

There are now signs that com­bine har­vester sales have slowed con­sid­er­ably as a re- sult of the re­duced har­vest this year.

Given that many har­vesters are or­dered around nine months in ad­vance, the sales fig­ures to date re­flect a very healthy po­si­tion – 20 per cent up on last month, and a whop­ping 30 per cent up on last year.

Un­der­min­ing this po­si­tion though is a lack of op­ti­mism for fur­ther ex-stock or­ders and a cloud over ex­pected for­ward or­ders that will need to be placed in the com­ing months.

This will im­pact next year’s fig­ures con­sid­er­ably.

This, of course, augers well for cashed up buy­ers who are able to take ad­van­tage of the ready avail­abil­ity of stock.

Baler sales were broadly in line with last month, but still 15 per cent up on last year and fi­nally, sales of out front mow­ers, linked to the “leisure” mar­ket, were well down this month but re­main in line with last year’s num­bers.

While we are see­ing a re­duc­tion in de­mand for agri­cul­tural equip­ment, this is off what was a record 2016 year with many feel­ing that we are at more man­age­able lev­els.

Fore­casts are for a con­tin­ued healthy de­mand for trac­tors while com­bine har­vester sales will be largely driven by the con­di­tions in the large crop grow­ing states of WA and NSW.

SALES SLOW­ING: Trac­tor sales are slow­ing across the na­tion, with a sus­pected sat­u­ra­tion in the leisure mar­ket mean­ing a 10 per cent drop in sales for the month of Septem­ber.

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