For equipment manufacturers, it is sales of two-wheel-drive, 100-plus-horsepower tractors and combines that continue to carry the day, positive points in an otherwise -- and another -- downward-trending monthly Ag Tractor and Combine Report from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
It would be confirmed by now that the COVID bubble that so ramped up sales of small tractors (those less than 100 horsepower) as suddenly-at-home small landowners purchased those units to work their limited acres, is months over. In its August 2022 report, AEM reports that sales of less-than-40-horsepower tractors were down 16% compared to August 2021. As well, sales of 40- to 100-horsepower tractors fell 7.2% in August compared to the same month a year earlier.
Year-to-date sales of under-40-horsepower tractors and 40- to 100-horsepower tractors are also down 17.6% and 12.6%, respectively. Those small-tractor numbers are compared to the first eight months of 2021.
To be fair -- and AEM has pointed this out -- COVID-level unit sales came on top of an already five-year run of historically high small-tractor sales. So, these small-tractor numbers, down as they are, are more finely viewed as down from higher-than-normal sales activity.
Sales of 100-plus-horsepower tractors, those units put to work on both modest- and large-sized farms, are up 11.5% (206 tractors) in August 2022 compared to August 2021. For the year, January through August 2022, 100-plus-horsepower tractors are up 12%, or nearly 1,700 tractors, compared to the same eight-month period in 2021.
Similarly, combine sales are doing well as the year nears its end. Comparing August 2022 to August 2021, combine sales rose 25.8% or 162 units. For the year through August, compared to the same period in 2021, combine sales are up, by a slim 2.7% -- but still up by nearly 100 units. Factors behind the increase in combine sales? One reasonable thought would be that farmers are upgrading their harvest-management technologies by purchasing new combines as harvest gets underway.
The AEM report shows sales of commercial-ag-sized four-wheel-drive tractors. That category also registered a decline in August, down 11.4% compared to August 2021 and down 6.5% year to date compared to the first eight months of 2021. Four-wheel-drive tractors sold are fairly modest in number -- 257 four-wheel-drive tractors were sold last month compared to 290 during August a year ago.
For the first eight months of this year, compared to the same period in 2021, four-wheel-drive unit sales are 1,890 tractors this year compared to 2,021 tractors sold over the same months in 2021.
Dan Miller can be reached at email@example.com
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