FOLLOWING a dramatic downturn in September when sales of tractors dropped markedly, October has seen a steadying of the ship with a slight recovery in machine sales taking place.
This was partly because of some “end-of-year financial planning” from some manufacturers that may have over-inflated the position a little.
The story across the nation was reasonable, but the most drought-affected regions of NSW continue to be hard hit, with sales still in decline.
Overall, tractor sales were down about 2.5 per cent compared with last October and are now broadly in line with last year on a year-to-date basis.
Queensland and Western Australia recorded slight improvements, up about
1 per cent each for the month, with WA up a healthy 8 per cent on last year, and Queensland still trailing, down 3.5 per cent.
Victorian sales continue to track last year while the bumper years in Tasmania (up 8 per cent), South Australia (up 10 per cent) and Northern Territory (up 8 per cent) round out the story.
NSW is having a difficult time, with the month down another 13 per cent, and that state now sits 8 per cent behind last year.
Larger tractor sales were strong in October — the 100hp to 200hp category was the strongest, with sales up 14 per cent for the month and now 8 per cent ahead of last year. This segment, normally associated with row cropping, has been strong for some time now and reflects the healthy state of Australia’s vegetable, horticulture and viticulture segments nationwide.
The large range above 200hp had a great month, up 26 per cent (partially impacted by the EOFY activity) and has made up ground, now only 7 per cent behind year-to-date.
These tractors tend to be most closely associated with broadacre farming and we are beginning to see signs of abatement in the demand for large tractors, due not only to the climatic conditions, but also in response to the ongoing consolidation being seen in large broadacre operations.
Ultimately, owners of this size range demand an adequate return on their investment and we expect to see greater emphasis on machine utilisation before the next buying cycle resumes.
Activity in the small-size range of tractors has been reasonably hard hit.
The under 40hp segment in particular is down 10 per cent for the month and 7 per cent year-to-date.
This segment, which contains the “leisure market”, appears to track domestic economic sentiment in many ways, and the TMA believes a measure of caution is being applied in response to such things as the Banking Royal Commission, sharemarket volatility and the pending election cycle.
There were 233 combine harvesters delivered in October, down on last year.
Baler sales have made a recovery off what was a cyclical low and are
13 per cent up on last year, while out-front mowers were once again slow, down
27 per cent for the month and 14 per cent on last year.
A SWINE MEMORY: Inspired by the Rural Weekly’s story on a bush kid and his pig pal, Valerie Weise-Young dug out this image from her archives. It’s a snap of her daughter Lottie, on December 4, 1979, with one of their sows. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED