2 June 1995

Material shortage slows cultivator flow

TRACTOR makers are not the only manufacturers suffering from a supply shortage of raw materials. Cultivator companies are facing similar problems.

For wheeled machines, tyre supply is the limiting factor, whereas equipment makers are struggling to find enough steel to meet their production targets.

Mervyn Hutton, managing director of Lemken Tri-Ag, explains: "Were not as badly off as some because we placed 70% of our 1995 order with the German factory at the beginning of the year.

August delivery

"Even so, if a farmer orders a plough tomorrow hes unlikely to get delivery before August. If that order is an odd-ball specification, he may have to wait longer."

Like the tractor market, it is increased sales that have resulted in these extended delivery times. Raw material suppliers scaled down their capacities to match the long-term decline in the farm machinery market. Now they are both unwilling and unable to adjust their operations to meet any short-/medium-term "blip" in that downward trend.

Lemkens 1995 performance in the UK confirms this theory. Sales of most of the firms equipment is up, compared with the same period in 1994.

"Our plough sales were up 30% for the first four months of this year," Mr Hutton says.