The latest sales figures from the Farm Tractor and Machine Trade Association (FTMTA) show a marked increase in tractor sales for September over the same month last year, with a total of 128 units being sold.

This is encouraging news for machinery dealers who have reported an uptick in orders of late, yet it is worth noting that sales in 2021 were down 24%, so this latest boost would appear to be a restoration of the normal sales pattern.

FTMTA recorded sales

That, however, would not be the full story, for in 2019 just 63 tractors were sold in September, only half of what was sold this year.

SeptemberChange from previous year %Total to dateTotal to date change %
Registration figures for the last four years . Source: FTMTA

September would appear to be a somewhat unpredictable month although disruption to the supply chain has impacted sales over the last couple of years, distorting the picture to a great extent, yet 2019 would not have been affected.

According to many sources in the industry this situation is slowly resolving itself; it is by no means over, but some brands can provide machines from stock while for others it is a matter of booking a slot on the production line, with delivery times coming down in the main.

Keep it simple for quick delivery

The general state of the industry appears to be that the less sophisticated the tractor then the sooner it is likely to arrive in your yard.

Microchips were the components most badly hit by recent events, so if they are not required then production can go ahead; although rubber is another item suffering constraints, but it doesn’t get talked about to the same extent.

Microchips tractors ftmta
Basic tractors without electronics tend to be more readily available

The looming end of the tax year might also be a factor in the upswing. Incomes have been good this year, even after increased costs have been taken into account.

Investing in new equipment while the money is in the bank is an attractive alternative to handing it over to the revenue, this is especially so with dairy farmers who will have cleared many of their fertiliser bills and other costs by now.

FTMTA notes power gains

There is another indicator contained within the figures which illustrates market trends and that is the power of the tractors sold.

For sales in July, the FTMTA noted that the average tractor power had moved up and beyond the 120hp mark for the first time. By this, it meant the most popular power bracket rather than a true mean.

Power hp tractors
Kubota is one company introducing ever bigger models to cater for the increased demand in tractor horsepower

The trend of rising power continued in August with the 121-140hp and the 141-160hp power brackets showing the greatest sales, although the separation of these two brackets in the FTMTA figures appears to an equal division of the old 121-160hp bracket, rather than a true record of each.

Come September and the 101-120hp bracket reasserted itself as the most popular tractor size, commanding 29% of sales, although it must also be noted that 75 of the 128 units registered were above 120hp, which equates to 59%.

Bigger tractors become popular

However the figures are divided up, there is no doubt that average tractor size is increasing and while the total sales for the year are down 10% on last year, it may well be the case that total horse power sold is much the same, or even greater.

Tractors registrations September
Big power and big prices don’t appear to be deterring farmers

The upshot being that those farmers and contractors who are buying new this year are a seriously upgrading the size of the machine they are purchasing.

As already noted, dairy farmers in particular may well be looking to invest some of their income in new machinery. This may well be reflected in the popularity of the mid-sized tractors last month.