The Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) reported December North American unit sales increased for row-crop tractors by 9% year-over-year. Compared to the December 2010, sales of utility tractors rose by 11% and compact tractor sales grew by 8%. 

Sale of combines declined year-over-year by 27% in December and sales of four-wheel drive tractors fell by 12% during the month.

Inventories of row-crop tractors, utility tractors and small tractors are above year-ago levels, while combine and four-wheel drive tractor inventories are down 10% and 8% year-over-year, respectively. Sequentially, inventories rose for all categories except for combines (–1%) and four wheel drive tractors (–11%).

 “Based upon our calculations, the 3,697 row-crop tractors sold last month translate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of roughly 37,600 units, based on monthly sales trends from 2000 to 2010,” Henry Kirn, machinery analyst for UBS, said in a note to investors. “Over the last 12 months, row-crop tractor sales totaled roughly 31,900 units, which is up 2% year-over-year.”