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