The Annual CropLife 100 Preview

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For me, this is undoubtedly the most exciting time of the year. Not only are the holidays just around the corner, but we here at CropLife magazine are busily compiling data from our annual CropLife 100 survey of the nation’s top ag retailers. Very shortly, this valuable information will presented to our readers in our December issue.

Of course, in the past, many of you have told me waiting to receive your annual December issue of CropLife is like waiting to open a favorite present on Christmas morning — extremely hard to do. So to help alleviate some of this pent up tension, I’ve offered up a short preview of the some the early findings in our past few November issues.

And I do so again this year. Without further delay, here are some of the more noteworthy findings from the early CropLife 100 returns.

A Slower Sales Year

Overall, it seems as if two challenging years in the field — one with not enough rain, one with too much rain — have taken their toll on ag retailer fortunes in 2013. Based upon the early data, CropLife 100 retailers are looking for a modest 1% to 2% increase in their overall sales this year, far below the 6% to 9% increases the marketplace has experienced during the previous three years.

Much of this lack of sales activity apparently ties back to the fertilizer segment, which has been steadily driving market growth the past three seasons, but looks to be virtually flat in 2013.

Furthermore, many CropLife 100 ag retailers see a decided shift from corn to soybeans taking place in 2014, so fertilizer sales figures could remain challenging for the foreseeable future.

On a somewhat brighter note, however, other crop inputs are having exceptional years in 2013. Both the crop protection products and seed categories should have healthy bumps in overall sales, driving by increased insect/plant disease pressures during the wetter than normal spring and several grower-customers having to replant some crop fields as a result.

Technology Rules!

We’ve known for some time that automatic steering is one of the hottest areas of technology, with the overall adoption rate at 64% according to our most recent Precision Ag survey. Still, automatic steering market penetration is impressive. According to 64% of CropLife 100 retailers, better than half their grower-customers are using this technology. Furthermore, 11% say that 100% of their customers have it!

Building Boom Continues

For the past few years, many ag retailers have spent much of their time (and profits) expanding their operations by building new facilities or updating older ones. Some observers have been predicting this trend would eventually wane.

But not this year! When asked what kind of money they planned to spend on plant construction in 2014, 83% of CropLife 100 retailers will invest as much or more than they did in 2013 to update their facilities.

So there’s your brief look at what’s coming in December’s CropLife 100 report. Only one more month to wait…

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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