CropLife 100: Machine Works

For the custom application business, 2008 was a good year — not great, but good. Overall according to the figures compiled in the 2008 CropLife 100 survey, sales for this category increased a modest 1% to $837 million. Market share was down 2% from the 2007 total, but the category showed several positive signs for the year.

On the custom application end, 71% of CropLife 100 retailers said that their revenues in this category grew from 1% to more than 5% during 2008. This was down slightly from the 2007 total of 76%. However, in 2007, 17% of ag retailers polled said their custom application sales had declined for the year from 1% to more than 5%. In 2008, this percentage had dropped to only 6%.

In the minds of many CropLife 100 retailers, custom application has benefitted from a couple of ag industry trends. First off, the impressive run up in corn acreages during 2007 served as a big plus for the marketplace. While corn acres dropped slightly in 2008, respondents indicated that demand for custom application work continued to stay strong. Many even credited a stronger performance among soybeans for keeping their work loads busy during 2008’s growing season.

The other big reason for custom application business continuing to grow ties back to the increased popularity of fungicide application in corn. For many years, various crop protection product manufacturers such as BASF have been promoting the use of fungicide as a preventative agent/yield booster in corn. Until recently, these claims have been unsupported by the industry’s Extension researchers. However, during 2008, some researchers began softening their stand, giving an added boost to fungicide sales and application work involving them.

Indeed, when the 2008 CropLife 100 form asked retailers if fungicide application had or would continue to have an impact on their bottom lines, 86% described this as “a significant growth opportunity” for their businesses. More impressively, the remaining 14% thought fungicide preventative application work would be a “good growth opportunity” going forward.

On the precision side of the equipment equation, the numbers were a little more muted. In 2007, 58% of respondents to the CropLife 100 survey said their precision agriculture sales were up 1% to more than 5%. This year, that figure fell slightly, to 53%. The number of ag retailers seeing slight declines in their precision agriculture revenues also grew, from 5% in 2007 to 7% in 2008.

The Equipment Mix

For equipment manufacturers caught up in the overall ag economic growth, 2008 was a bit of a breather. In 2007, caught off-guard by the increased demand for their brands in the wake of huge upticks in corn acreages, equipment manufacturers spent virtually the entire year scrambling to fill customer orders in a timely fashion. Of course, for many, the definition of “timely” lengthened some, from three months from order placement to delivery to six months or more.
“We spent all of 2007 running like crazy to keep up with demand without even stopping,” says Bob Mills of Ray-Man Inc. “This year, things were still busy, but not as crazy as they were.”

Other manufacturers agreed with this assessment. By the time 2008 rolled around, manufacturers had pretty much gotten a handle on their order/delivery schedules. And this was reflected in the CropLife 100 numbers.

Starting in 2006, the CropLife 100 survey began asking retailers which product names were most common in their sprayer fleets. In that year, Ag-Chem brands were the most popular, used by 81% of respondents. A distant second was Case IH at 54%. In 2007, there wasn’t a lot of movement between these two equipment giants, with Ag-Chem maintaining its 81% percentile and Case growing slightly to 61%. The news in 2007 was the performance of John Deere. Sprayers painted green were present in 58% of the machine fleets of CropLife 100 retailers in 2007, up from 53% the year before.

Given this history, how would 2008 play out, we wondered? In a word: wow.

According to the 2008 CropLife 100 survey, Ag-Chem sprayers still represent the lion’s share of fleet equipment, but the percentage has fallen slightly to 80%.

The real news, however, comes from the company that now sits in second place. In 2008, according to respondents, 71% of their sprayers were John Deere green, up 13% from the year before. As for the previous No. 2, Case sprayers now represent only 50% of the average CropLife 100 retailer fleet, down 11% from 2007.

The only other sprayer company that made any kind of move was GVM. Its percentile grew slightly, from 12% in 2007 to 18% in 2008.

Looking ahead to 2009, the race between Ag-Chem and John Deere sprayers could become even more interesting if CropLife 100 respondents are to be believed. When asked what brands they were considering buying for the upcoming growing seasons, 48% said they would be looking at John Deere units. Meanwhile, 46% have plans to scope out Ag-Chem sprayers. If these numbers hold, the gap between Ag-Chem and John Deere sprayers within CropLife 100 retailer fleets could shrink to 5% or less during 2009.

Although, this assumes that demand for Big IRON stays strong into 2009 — by no means an absolute given the prevailing economic conditions currently plaguing the overall U.S. market. But big rig manufacturers should be able to breathe a little easier based upon the data reflected in the 2008 CropLife 100 survey.

In 2007, the number of retailers not planning to add or upgrade their equipment fleets stood at 24% — somewhat surprising given how strong the marketplace was performing. This year, however, the percentage of ag retailers not planning to expand their number of units droppped to 23%

Leave a Reply

CropLife 100 Stories

GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Exterior view of CPS Big Lake facility which includes enclosed receiving and load out area
CropLife 100New Alternative Weed Resistance Traits Could Experience Slow Acceptance
May 12, 2017
It wasn’t too many years ago that ag retailers and their grower-customers could hardly wait for new options to fight Read More
BRANDT
CropLife 100Former PotashCorp COO Joins BRANDT Board
April 27, 2017
BRANDT has announced the appointment of another industry veteran to its board of directors. David Delaney, most recently EVP and Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Trending Articles
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Latest News
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens …
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More
Exterior view of CPS Big Lake facility which includes enclosed receiving and load out area
CropLife 100New Alternative Weed Resistance Traits Could Experience…
May 12, 2017
It wasn’t too many years ago that ag retailers and their grower-customers could hardly wait for new options to fight Read More
Diane Allemang and Dan Jacobs
Crop InputsFMC Agricultural Solutions, Casa Pacifica Partner to He…
May 11, 2017
FMC Agricultural Solutions is teaming up with Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, an organization that supports vulnerable children Read More
UncategorizedWhat’s Up With ARA
May 11, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks with Brian Reuwee regarding what issues are on the docket for the Agricultural Retailers Association. Read More
BASF Maglis tablet retailer grower
Precision AgQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision …
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More