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Combine harvesters dragging down the market while tractors hold firm

Posted by Admin, 16th September 2014

SALES of new tractors have been relatively stable so far this year.

To the end of last month, 6400 new tractors were sold, a fall of 6 per cent compared to last year.

Hay balers are a good story this year, even though the delivery season is just kicking off.

Early signs show the market up 8 per cent on last year, with similar increases reported across the hay tool range of mowers, rakes and tedders.

The general feeling for hay products is positive with strong demand again this year for hay and fodder.

However, the combine harvester market tells an entirely different story.

The market dropped from 1100 new units in 2012 to only 700 last year, and predictions this year are for 600 — an almost 50 per cent fall from two years ago.

This may not seem like a large volume for the whole of the country, but when you consider these days a header with a front will set you back half a million bucks or more, the drop equates to $300 million in sales.

There is talk that the 600 new-unit forecast may have been a little optimistic with the season not unfolding too well in many broadacre growing areas that just haven’t had the winter rain.

At the start of the year, there were significant amounts of header trades clogging up dealers’ yards from the Indian to the Pacific oceans, and fortunately quite a few of these have flushed through the system. However, the troubled season for many means we may not be rid of the trades by the end of the year.

The implication for farmers and contractors becomes a reluctance for dealers to take their trades, or at the very least a drop in the values offered for the trades with the flow-on ­effect being another poor year next year in new header sales — a vicious cycle.

The broadacre and header dealers need to retain experienced and talented staff to look after the harvest equipment. However, this gets hard with these volumes of sales out of the profit and loss statement — let’s hope spring brings some prosperity for the country and we don’t head down the path of other industries forced to lay off staff to survive.

The Victorian market for new tractor sales rose 8 per cent for the calendar year, boosted by increased prosperity in the dairy sector and continued strong sales in the lifestyle market.

The coming hay season will need some more rain to boost the production cycles. However, initial signs are positive for baler and hay tool sales with reports that the preseason ordering has been strong this year.