Tractor sales start year with a bang
Tractor sales have made a strong start to the year, with delivery figures for the first quarter sitting at record levels. Data released by the Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia shows 2,238 tractors were delivered during the first three months of 2012 – a record for this period since record-keeping began in 1989.
The next best result to that was back in the mid-2000s.
The figures show plenty of fizz in the market, with an extremely strong January, up 60 percent on the previous year, February up about 35 percent and March dropping back to more normal levels.
The strongest growth was seen in north Queensland, central western New South Wales and South Australia.
Alan Kirsten, of industry analyst Agriview, says the sales figures show a general push right through the range, but one market sector stands out. "The lifestyle market has been particularly strong and continues to be so," she says.
"Compact tractors up to about 60hp continue to be very popular and have for the past two or three years.
"It's a similar story with out-front mowers, again showing very strong demand in the lifestyle market.
"At the top end, the 200hp-plus market has also been strong, but at a more subdued level, with investment levels remaining solid."
Kubota Tractor Australia Marketing Manager Mark Taylor says his company's experience echo the TMA findings.
"The strength of the lifestyle market has shown no signs of abating - we've had our best first quarter ever," he says.
"January was outstanding, just phenomenal. February was brilliant and March more back to normal.
"We have a fantastic order book and still have orders to fill. I've been at Kubota for more than 20 years and it's the best start to a year I can remember.
"For us, sales have been strong pretty much across the board and we're now making inroads into the higher horsepower areas.
"The three states down the east coast are generally our best - they are all good for us. If anything, Queensland is probably the leader.
"We've seen a very strong upward trend for zero-turn mowers lately, as against the conventional out-front style.
"The market has really warmed to this kind of machine because of its manoeuvrability. They're ideal for cutting around obstacles, trees and shrubs - we're amazed at the take-up on those."
Kirsten says other machinery sectors are considerably quieter than the buoyant tractor market.
"Despite the fact that it's off-season in the combine market, that area is still slightly up on deliveries," she says.
"Forward order demand is slow, but last year was a record - the best since 2002 for combine harvester sales.
"We don't expect to see that this year.
"Balers are in their fifth year of declining sales, which, ironically, happens to coincide with better conditions, more hay and fodder around and rain.
"The baler market is subdued, but, again, it is off-season."
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