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

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
CropLife 100Map: Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings Acquisitions In 2014
May 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings continues to expand its agricultural retail distribution business through these key acquisitions in 2014. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More