The nervousness felt in the machinery trade over this year’s sales prospects has not been eased by the latest news from the US where overall tractor sales were down 21.2% over the same month last year.

However, this may not be a true reflection of machinery sales worldwide for the the downturn is mainly the result of smaller tractors, purchased by hobby or part-time farmers, seeing the most dramatic decline.

The sub-40hp bracket was hit by a 25.9% reduction in sales, down to 5,941 from last year’s 8,014 units.

40-100hp tractors didn’t fare quite so badly, dropping 14.5%, while over 100hp sector sold 17.3% less tractors.

The one bright spot in America was that the sales of 4WD tractors across all sectors increased slightly with a 1.4% rise, although this only represents a trend away from the standard 2WD format.

In January, 2.1% of tractors sold were 4WD as opposed to 1.6% in January 2023.

Tractor sales peak shift in the US

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which compiles these figures, also offers a graph comparing the figures for the last three years plus the five-year average.

Alongside the general fall recorded from all these years, it is noticeable that in 2023 the buying peak in America moved from April to June.

Autumn sales, however, topped out in October as it has done in previous years.

It was a similar story in Canada which has a market size just 12% of that of its southern neighbour.

Overall tractor sales were down 29.9% in January compared to January last year with the 100hp+ segment suffering the least, showing a 24.8% reduction in sales.

The peak buying month in Canada is October and the number of tractors sold has remained stable over the last few years.

Any differences in demand show up in the months before the autumn with a distinct spring surge in 2021, something of an anomaly from the norm.