It’s auction season, again. Every spring
those few weeks between the start of milder weather and the day
farmers need to head into the fields are packed with farm sales. This
year, however, milder weather is a pretty relative term. Last week
when I attended my first sale of the season, I had to come home and
drink a pot of coffee to shake off the chill from standing around in
two-degree temperature and snow flurries.
Nonetheless, taking in that first
auction sale every spring is still a very welcome event for me, and—I
suspect—for many others. Aside from being a mechanism for those
leaving the industry to clear out inventory, they seem to be
a barometer of farmers optimism for the coming season. If producers
think there are good times ahead, there’ll be a lot of people at
sales; and they’ll have their wallets out ready to pay for what
catches their eye.
Down in the States where it always
seems to be auction season somewhere, sales have seen a lot of money
change hands in the past few months. U.S. farmers have been paying
top dollar for good used tractors. In fact, buyers have been paying
record prices for low-hour machines. John Deere’s own Machinery
Finder Blog is currently highlighting one of those record sales.
A 2002, 7410 two-wheel drive tractor
but that price puts it way above normal. To understand just how much,
I checked with Ritchie Bros. online auction prices site to see what
others have sold for. The site shows only one other two-wheel drive
version being sold recently, and it netted only US $37,000. Even the
listing of comparable MFWD 7410s doesn’t show any of those coming
close to that price.
John Deere’s site has also shown
several other green machines that have set records at U.S. sales this
year. In every case it’s the clean, low-hour tractors that are
creating the highest demand. And models from other brands that show
well are seeing strong buyer interest,too.
But until the early April sales are in
the book, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not farmers here are in a
If that first sale I attended was any
indication, there is some spare change jingling in farmers pockets on
the Canadian prairie. That almost always means higher demand for used
farm machinery. When I arrived at the sale, there was a sea of pickup
trucks spilling over from the designated parking area. So I had a
long walk just to get to where the action was. And when it did get
there, I noticed even the lineup to get a hamburger or coffee was
easily fifteen people deep.
Selling prices were pretty strong
throughout the day. Anything in good condition was bringing a good
price. But there was one notable change from sales in years past. At
one time, it seemed there was a buyer for everything, even what most
people would consider junk. At this sale, and those last year, one
thing seemed clear: farmers are only looking for good, usable
machinery and equipment. Auctioneers no longer need to pull
everything out of sheds to add a few dollars to the overall sale
tally. The junk can stay in the trees behind the farmyard.
Have you picked up a bargain at a sale this year? Have you seen a machine go for a record price? Let me know what you’ve found memorable about this year’s auctions.