Tractor Sales Continue Surge

Grain Prices, Waning Trade Disputes Lead Farmers to Upgrade Equipment

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Larger row-crop and articulated four-wheel-drive tractors have enjoyed increasing sales success since late in 2020. Sale of these units rose 15.1% last month over April 2020. (Photo courtesy of Case IH)

Tractor sales continued their year-long upward swing in April, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers' (AEM) monthly Tractor and Combine retail report released Tuesday. For the month of April 2021, all farm tractor sales were up 22.7% over April 2020.

The tractor retail market is led by sales of units 40 horsepower and under. During April, manufacturers sold 30,073 tractors under 40 horsepower (compared to 24,894 in April 2020).

Tractor sales in the 40-100 horsepower range rose to 7,718 last month, compared to 5,991 in April 2020.

Sales of two-wheel-drive tractors 100 horsepower and above were also strong -- 2,289 units sold last month compared to 1,771 in April 2020.

The upward trend in sales of tractors has been consistent month to month since early last year. And it continues to build. Overall tractors sales for the first four months of 2021 are 103,632 units sold compared to 74,458 units sold for the same period last year. That's a 39.2% increase, AEM reported.

"We're operating in a very interesting market right now," Curt Blades, senior vice president of ag services for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, stated in an AEM release.

"For the last 12 months, we've seen a dramatic rise in under-40-horsepower, or small-tractor, sales in North America, both the U.S. and Canada," said Blades. "This is due largely to a lot of the industries that have done very well during the pandemic, like luxury items or things that have to do with the home."

Small tractors fall into that category. Small tractors are largely going to the suburbs with larger lots to help homeowners haul rocks and dirt, work around trees, and overall improve the property.

However, starting later in 2020, larger row-crop and articulated four-wheel-drive tractors have also enjoyed increasing sales success. Four-wheel-drive tractor sales were up as well, by 15.1% in April 2021 over April 2020. Actual four-wheel-drive sales amounted to 327 last month, compared to 284 in April 2020.

"One reason has been the gradual increase, over the past five years, of the average age of the ag fleet in both the U.S. and Canada. With commodity prices increasing, and trade difficulties starting to ease, not only is the replacement market doing well, but farmers are upgrading their operations with newer technology," Blades said.

The single slightly disappointing category in AEM's April Tractor and Combine report was combines. Combine sales were down for the month by 3.2%. But that represents only a small decline in actual units sold -- 487 in April 2021 compared to 503 in April 2020.

For the year, January-through-April 2021 combine sales are up 8.9% or 115 units over the same four-month span in 2020.

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Dan Miller