Manufacturers warn of extended lead times

Farmers looking to take delivery of new machines before the autumn will need to move quickly due to increased orders worldwide thanks to bullish grain prices and the increased availability of credit in eastern Europe.

Machinery orders have rocketed in the past three months, according to Lemken UK’s general manager Mark Ormond. “The volume of orders in December, January and February were three times the monthly average for the rest of 2010.

“Lemken worldwide already has orders-in-hand for 60% of our planned 2011 production,” he warns. Some of this increase is coming from France, where orders are already accounting for 75% designated for that market, he adds. “In Russia, this is even more pronounced, with orders at 150%.” As a result, lead times for new machines have increased by four weeks in the past seven days alone, he adds.

Other manufacturers, including Sumo and Simba, have also noted increased activity and the market is following much the same pattern as it was in 2007-08, according to Mr Ormond. “But that was after both SIMA and Agritechnica shows. We expect orders to increase after the forthcoming SIMA show.

“Machines ordered now will take between 10 and 24 weeks to be delivered, despite the factory being expanded by nearly 100% in 2009-10 and 24-hour production is already in place on many product lines. We expect this to get worse in the coming weeks.”

“It appears that UK farmers are not ordering at the same rate as the worldwide industry. I worry that once our customers have decided to order machines, in two or three months time, production will already be sold out for the autumn.”

Yorkshire cultivation and drill maker Sumo says sales volumes are on the up, with 40% more machines on order from dealers compared to this time last year. December is traditionally the time when dealers order stock for the coming season and this year has seen them getting in supplies in considerable numbers.

International sales manager Stewart Peckitt says that lead times for some machines are extending into the autumn so buyers need to think about their requirements in good time.

The firm says it is also seeing rising exports, especially to The Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania and Hungary.

Over at Lincolnshire cultivator maker Simba, managing director Colin Adams also says that sales are looking good for this year after a quiet period before Christmas when most of the country was snowed in.

He says that while off-the-shelf 3-4.5m machines are available for delivery up to June, some of the bigger 6m items that are virtually built to order already have lead times up to the end of August. So anyone looking for something non-standard needs to be thinking about ordering sooner rather than later.

Sales overall are likely to be up on last year, he adds, with a noticeable increase in smaller farmers looking to buy 3m or 3.5m kit. Export sales are rising too, with a particular improvement in Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania.