In a machinery market with fewer farmers interested in handling their own spraying, farm equipment giant Agco plans to close the history book on another of its storied brands.
The Atlanta-area manufacturing firm announced Monday it will discontinue production of SpraCoupe compact self-propelled sprayers for the North American market, effective this spring.
Production of all SpraCoupe 2013 models, including the 4460, 4660, 7460 and 7660, will continue through May 2013, the company said in a release.
Agco added it will continue to make SpraCoupe parts, which will remain available to customers along with "professional service support from their SpraCoupe dealers," according to Mark Sharitz, Agco's marketing director for application equipment.
The SpraCoupe's roots in Prairie and Plains agriculture date back to 1961, when producer John Kirschmann, inspired by a home-built unit he'd bought from another farmer, began building self-propelled sprayers at Bismarck, N.D.
Kirschmann Manufacturing built and sold SpraCoupes through the 1960s, until it sold the business to another North Dakota firm, Melroe Manufacturing, in 1973. Melroe then sold the SpraCoupe business to Agco, in 1998.
During that half-century, the SpraCoupe "has served farmers who want smaller professional-grade self-propelled application equipment for applying fertilizer and crop protection products on their own," Agco said Monday.
"However, the North American customer base for this segment has been shrinking, reflecting fewer, smaller farms and a growing number of larger farming operations, fueling demand for larger, more productive machines."
Such market shifts, combined with the cost for Tier 4 emissions compliance, have made it "impractical" to continue the SpraCoupe brand beyond the 2013 model year, Sharitz said in the company's release.
"This was a difficult decision, but a necessary step for Agco to maintain its leading position in the application industry," he said.
Agco will remain in the application equipment business through its RoGator and TerraGator product lines, he added.
Agco in 2010 publicly mapped out a new strategy for its product lines, in which Challenger and Massey Ferguson would become Agco's "foundation" brands within North America.
However, an Agco vice-president said at the time, brands such as Hesston, Sunflower, Gleaner, White Planters, SpraCoupe, Fendt and others would still offer "unique customer benefits within the marketplace."
Agco had previously said its multi-brand strategy maintained brand value, but by 2010 found it had become "costly to support multiple brands" in the changing market environment.
Agco's machinery brands "not going away," Jan. 14, 2010