Smaller straw-walker combine sales up

Smaller farmers are buying new combines for the first time in years, report combine manufacturers. It’s thanks to a combination of higher grain prices, generous capital allowances, sky-high second-hand prices and a run of wet harvests.

According to Rob Edwards at Same Deutz-Fahr, the firm’s new small combine – the 220hp, five straw-walker 6040 – is selling well, often to farmers who have not bought a new combine for many years.

“We haven’t sold a combine under 300hp for eight or nine years, but this year we have seven or eight 6040s on order,” he says. “Some of the farmers are replacing an old machine, others are moving away from using a contractor because they are worried he won’t be able to cope with a wet harvest.”

Deutz-Fahr isn’t the only manufacturer to report an increase in smaller combine sales. Usually, the split is 65:35 between hybrids and straw-walker machines in the main buying period between October and December, explains Jeremy Wiggins of Claas UK. But this season, this has evened out to a split of 50:50 in some places.

“We’ve had a lot more interest from family farms looking to invest in new combines, partly due to grain price dividends and also because of changes to tax allowances.”

New Holland also reported a strong year for combine sales, some 10% higher than those in 2009.

The demand for smaller, 4-walker machines has definitely increased, according to Nigel Honeyman, combine specialist at New Holland. “We usually only sell a handful and don’t even include it in the price list.”

But this season, models like the TC 5040 have been more popular, says Mr Honeyman. “Customers that would have gone for a second-hand machine are faced with severe shortages and increased prices, so a new machine looks better value.”

And the fact that some farms are simply not set up for the huge combines that contractors run is also having an impact. “Contractors like running larger combines because of the capacity, however some smaller farms can’t cope with the throughput,” he explains.