IT'S BEEN a topsy-turvy year for machinery salesman if the latest figures on tractor sales from the Agricultural Engineers Association are anything to go by.

Registrations of agricultural tractors of more than 50hp in the first seven months of the year were up 9% on the same period last year. At 8556, the number of tractors registered was nearly 700 higher than in January-July, 2018.

But from the monthly sales figures you can see how the weather-induced downturn in the market during August has affected the year so far. In July, when prospects for harvest were fairly bullish, sales were actually up by 18% after some ups and down prior to that. However, the month of August saw trade fall by an almost commensurate amount.

The AEA has now used corrected figures and has revised every month in 2019 upwards for, with the biggest change being for tractors registered in March. That month now shows a 12% year-on-year increase, compared with a 6% decline in the figures previously published.

An AEA spokesman added: "In interpreting the annual change, it is worth bearing in mind that registrations for the first half of 2018 will have been suppressed following a large number of machines being pre-registered in December, 2017, ahead of the introduction of the 'Mother Regulation' which put in place legislation for certain safety features from January, 2018.

"Therefore, the increase seen so far in 2019 probably indicates a broadly stable market in the first half of this year, rather than a growing one.

"After an upturn in July, perhaps partly due to a limited number of pre-registrations ahead of another regulatory change, registrations in August dropped below year earlier levels again, for the third time in four months. At 712 machines, the monthly total was 17% down on August, 2018.

"This suggests that, after a relatively strong start to the year, registrations have slowed down as ongoing economic and political uncertainty are creating a drag on demand. Nevertheless, registrations during the first eight months of the year were still up 6% on the same period in 2018," he said.

Revised monthly figures:

Month Registrations Yearly change

January 693 -0.7%

February 518 -11.3%

March 1843 +11.7%

April 1744 +46.7%

May 1008 -17.4%

June 1160 -2.3%

July 1590 +18.0%

August 712 -17.4%

Year to date 9268 +6.1%