It may not be a “buyers’ market” exactly, but any producers thinking about a new seeding system for 2010 will find a better selection and perhaps a few price breaks from machinery dealers this winter.
The frenzy that gripped much of the North American machinery industry through part of 2008 and into early 2009 is over. The silver lining, for producers, as the world crawls out of a global recession, is a return to some calm or a bit of normalcy as far as supply and pricing is concerned.
Several air seeding system manufacturers contacted report a reasonably good inventory of drills and air seeders on the ground, and still have room in manufacturing lines to order equipment for next spring. Most say prices aren’t expected to increase in the new year and several offer discount incentives for equipment bought before year end.
“I would say the supply and demand forces on the machinery industry today are much like they were in 2006,” says Jerry Engel, president of the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, based in Regina, Sask. “Things have slowed considerably from where they were about two years ago.”
Engel says the boom, in many respects, meant a good time for food producers with decent crops and relatively strong commodity prices. On the flip side, the boom also produced high input costs, labour shortages and high global demand for some agricultural equipment. Many Canadian and other North American manufacturers were stretched to meet demands not only here at home, but in emerging markets in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Australia and other countries.
“The market this year certainly isn’t like it was last year this time,” says Sheldon Gerspacher, North American marketing manager for Flexi-coil New Holland seeding systems. “The international market was crazy for all manufacturers. So things have slowed down quite considerably. In North America, however, the market is quite consistent. Looking ahead, our sales for next spring are really quite strong.”
Gerspacher, who is based in Saskatoon, says the new Flexi-coil New Holland precision air hoe drill, introduced in 2009, is probably catching the most attention from producers. The new drill has openers that follow the terrain independently of the frame, allowing for accurate seed placement ranging from zero to two inches seeding depth.
“Sales of the precision hoe drill have gone extremely well for next spring,” he says. The machine comes in 50-, 60-and 70-foot widths with either 10-or 12-inch row spacing. Gerspacher says sales are about equal between all three widths.
Flexi-coil has good availability of most models for 2010. The company did offer discounts through their “early buyer program,” but that ended in October.
At Seed Master, based in Emerald Park, Sask., sales for 2010 are on par with 2009, says Rochelle Beaujot, who is in charge of sales and dealer relations.
“There was a bit of lull in sales during harvest, but since then things have begun moving,” she says. “It is promising. Sales are looking good for 2010.”
Producers have been most interested in the compact M-70 air seeding system introduced in 2009, she says. The M-70 is a 70-foot-wide air seeder that folds to 18 feet wide for easier transport.
The company builds air seeders to order, and with an efficient production line, Beaujot says there is still plenty of time to order a new air seeder for delivery before the 2010 seeding season. With a dealer network across Western Canada, the company does offer price discounts on early orders.
Randy Ellis at Morris Industries says with a slowdown in demand to supply seeding equipment to Eastern European markets, it is a good time to place an order for 2010. “Last year, with demand from some of the foreign markets, everything was going gangbusters, but it has slowed quite a bit,” says Ellis, director of marketing and sales for North America.” We still have capacity for next year, but it is a time game now. We need to get orders placed, get it built and get it delivered before spring.”
Morris’s 61-foot Contour drill with a three-tank cart with 450-bushel capacity and 12-inch paired-row openers is the most popular combination among producers, he says. Following a capacity guideline of 100 acres per foot of drill, the 61 footer can easily handle 5,000 acres with room to spare. Along with the 61 footer, Ellis says there is still good demand for the 34-foot Maxim II system, which is an ideal size for small to mid-size farming operations.
Morris can still handle 2010 orders for its manufacturing plants in Yorkton, Sask., and Minnedosa, Man. Prices for 2010 are expected to be unchanged from 2009.
At Bourgault Industries in St. Brieux, Sask., availability for 2010 will depend on size, says Scott Lessmeister, Canadian sales manager. Their expanded factory has been running at full capacity for 2009. They have some models right at the plant that can be configured to provide a range of options for producers, but some of the larger models aren’t available for 2010.
“Producers looking for models 55 feet or smaller will still find some models available,” says Lessmeister. But they have switched over their production line and won’t be back into the larger seeding systems until next year.
Lessmeister says “bigger” is the most popular model producers are looking for. The 65-foot and wider seeding systems are in greatest demand.
“I don’t think we’ve hit a size limit yet,” says Lessmeister, referring to the industry. “Nobody is standing back and saying whoa, that is way too big.” In fact, he says, there is less demand for seeding systems smaller than 65 feet.
Lessmeister says a slowdown in demand for product among Eastern European countries has eased pressure on manufacturers. And with stability in the cost of raw materials, like steel, he doesn’t expect any price increases in seeding systems in 2010. The company does offer sales programs on limited models and sizes. Producers are urged to check with their local dealers for details.
Amity Technology, based in Fargo, North Dakota, expects to launch its line of direct seeding systems into Western Canada this year. The company has shown its seed drill at Canadian farm shows the past couple years, but plans to have dealers handling the product for 2010.
Amity will introduce its twin disk drill, a combination no-till and conventional drill, for 2010, says company spokesperson Gene Breker.
Described as “the first totally new seeding concept in generations,” the design features two opposing single disks that work well in high residue, but at the same time disturb the soil enough to produce black soil over the seed row.
“It provides a compromise for those farmers who want a no-till system, but often have cool soil at seeding,” says Breker. “The drill doesn’t disturb the soil surface, except over the seed row, which allows the soil to warm up faster.”
The drill, which comes in 10-foot increments ranging from 30 to 60 feet, has paired row openers providing six-and nine-inch row spacing. The system has good depth control and seed placement, and is designed to eliminate sidewall compaction and hair pinning of crop residue.
“One of the nice features of the seeding system is that we have removed 75 per cent of the moving parts,” says Breker. “On many systems you can have eight moving parts or more and on ours we only have two, which means much less maintenance.”
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by e-mail at [email protected]