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 100CHS To Acquire Illinois River Energy Ethanol Plant
May 1, 2014
CHS has signed an agreement with Sinav Ltd. to acquire 100% of the company's stock, which includes Illinois River Energy, a 133-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant at Rochelle, IL. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
FertilizerVerdesian Announces Central America Plant Nutrition Exp…
July 7, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a commercial agreement with Agroalfa in Central America to bring the company’s patented polymer technology to Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementCourt Decision Protects Chesapeake Bay’s Water, Wildlif…
July 7, 2015
Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the historic clean-up plan for the Chesapeake Bay. Collin O’Mara, president and Read More
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Western-Australia-based Agworld — having fully launched its data management software system stateside last year after a 2013 soft launch — Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More