Farmers in the UK, as elsewhere, are not renowned for sanguine comment on prospects.
But there is some evidence that talk of an uptick in fortunes may be true after all.
UK registrations of new agricultural tractors (over 50 horsepower) in December reached 1,360 units.
This is well over double the number registered in the same month of 2016,
The big rise in December brought the total number of tractors registered in 2017 to 12,033, 13% more than in 2016.
This is only the second rise in the number of annual registrations in nine years and the first since 2011.
’Positive farmer sentiment’
The uptick tallies, for instance, with a comment from feed-to-engineering company Carrs Group earlier this month, which said that “machinery sales remain strong and continue to reflect positive farmer sentiment on the prospects for UK agriculture”.
Still, there is cause for farmers (including the author of this piece) yet to shake their heads and suck through their teeth.
The December surge was largely down to machines being pre-registered in advance on the introduction of new regulations on January 1, 2018.
Data for early 2018 are expected to show a hangover from the late-2017 surge.
Furthermore, of course, there is the factor of the strengthening pound, eroding the boost to UK crop prices (in sterling terms) from a weaker currency.
Dollar-denominated Chicago wheat futures are up 2.2% so far this year – sterling-denominated London ones down 1.7%.