East on tractor buying spree

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Tractor sales in the eastern states were at record highs in the first quarter of this year and in WA machinery dealers had solid sales.

According to the Tractor and Machinery Association (TMA) of Australia, 2238 tractors were delivered nation-wide in the first three months of 2012, a record for this period since the association's record-keeping began in 1989.

The last time the TMA reported similar figures was in the mid-2000s.

The TMA's recently released sales report said the strongest growth was in North Queensland, central western New South Wales and South Australia.

WA Farm Machinery Dealers Association executive officer John Henchy said the picture for WA was positive but not groundbreaking.

"For the first quarter, sales in most tractor categories are up across WA since this time last year," he said.

"They are not at record levels but certainly things are looking pretty healthy.

"If we get a good seasonal break, things will probably continue much the same."

According to the TMA's report, lifestyle tractors of about 60 horsepower showed the highest number of sales.

Mr Henchy said this was the case in WA, as hobby farmers around the Perth area looked to purchase machinery.

"There is also a lot of strength in the 200 horsepower tractors," he said.

Mr Henchy said farmers in the eastern states were looking to "catch up" after a run of difficult seasons and a good year in 2011.

Redcliffe McIntosh & Son agricultural sales representative Michael Wright said the TMA's findings did not directly correlate to his company's sales.

"The used market and the smaller tractor market has dwindled off, but we are doing reasonable well in the larger tractor market," he said.

"We are selling a lot of a lot of 150 horsepower tractors.

"Generally in the broadacre industry, tractor sales have been doing pretty well."

He said machinery dealers around Perth served the hay, horticulture and cattle industries.

"None of those markets are booming and they're only purchasing to necessity," he said.

Mr Wright said he had sold about 12 tractors across all categories this year, which was about on par with the same time last year.

The TMA reported hay baler sales had declined for the fifth consecutive year this year.

Mr Wright said he had only sold a few hay balers this year, substantially down from previous years.

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