Large Tractor Sales Up Slightly in January, 2WD and Combines Down

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Sales of large farm tractors were up slightly, 1.4%., in January. Sales in all other tractor categories and combines were down last month compared to the same month in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Case IH)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (DTN) -- Unit sales of four-wheel-drive agriculture tractors grew slightly, up 1.4%, in the U.S. during January 2024, according to new numbers from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). AEM reports monthly on tractor and combine sales.

But AEM's January 2024 report, compared to January 2023, showed sales declines in the other categories it tracks -- all two-wheel drive tractors down 21.6% and combine sales down 4.9% from the same month, year-earlier sales. Sales of farm-sized, 100+ hp tractors were down 17.3% in January from one year earlier.

"This slight gain in U.S. four-wheel-drive tractors is positive news as 2024 kicks off," said AEM senior vice president Curt Blades, in the AEM release. "While overall sales fell in both the U.S. and Canada compared to January 2023 sales, we remain optimistic about future long-term growth."

Two categories, 40-100 hp tractors and tractors under 40 hp, continue to decline sharply -- sales of 40-100 hp are down 14.5% from January 2023; sales of under 40 hp tractors are down 25.9% for the same period.

January 2024 sales in the two small-tractor categories represent a months-long reversal from what were extremely high sales volumes seen during the peak months of COVID. In 2020, for example, under 40 hp tractor sales were up 21% and up 13.8% in the 40-100 hp category. In that year, 2020, manufacturers sold 265,000 small tractor units. Last year's sales in the two groups totaled just under 218,000 tractors.

"People were stuck in their homes, they couldn't go out to eat, watch a movie or anything," said Viren Popli, president and CEO, Mahindra Ag North America. "They decided they wanted to improve their property, to make it look better. The honey-do list was quite long and that justified the purchase of a tractor."

Popli did not believe that those high sales totals were sustainable. But neither are today's numbers disastrous, he adds. Last year, 2023, still represented the third-largest tractor sales volume in history.

"I believe we are on the tail-end of that unnatural boom we saw during the pandemic," Popli said. "We see (sales volume) leveling off, growth being flat to marginal growth and then slowly it will start climbing up again."

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