When 200 farmers are standing outdoors in the cold before the annual farm show opens, it’s a sure bet that business will be brisk.

And it was. The lots all around the QCCA Expo Center, Rock Island, were packed with hundreds of attendees by 2 p.m. Sunday for the annual three-day Quad-Cities Farm Equipment Show.

That’s the sign of a huge upcoming planting season and farmers’ hopes for good crops, said Richard Sherman, longtime event manager for the show that’s in its 22nd year.

“We’re busy here, and every farm show is busy,” Sherman said. “The planting season’s going to be very, very big because of the drought.

“We need corn for ethanol, domestic animal feed and export — we have an enormous need for a corn crop,” he said.

Last year, he said, “Farmers who got lucky with the rain in their area did terrific. Prices were very high because of the shortage.”

Farmers with crop insurance in the areas where the drought affected crops collected big checks in December, Sherman said.

No one knows what the upcoming crop will be like, he added. “The land is very dry,” he said. “We need a wet winter,” Sherman said. “But the more key issue is what happens in the spring.”

Sherman said he has seen farm shows that were very downbeat, “but this show is upbeat,” he said. “You can read it in the farmers’ faces.”

The show about 200 companies represented, including 15-20 new ones.

Farm equipment is getting bigger, Sherman said. “Some of the stuff is just making it through the doors. And the equipment is getting faster. It’s more and more important to get the crop out of the ground faster.”

Among the new machines on display is a Case IH Axial-Flow combine. “It has the largest, quietest cab in the industry,” said Mike Kroening, of Davenport, territory manager. “Despite the drought, farmers have had a better-than-expected year.”

At the show, he said, “There’s a lot of interest in how they can update.”

The new combine, which has a portable refrigerator and a global positioning system that helps steer it, creates comfort, which allows farmers to stay in the field longer and get more work done, he said.

Cameron Schulte, of Edgewood, Iowa, was a first-time attendee at the show. He sells livestock equipment such as chutes, tubs and portable heating equipment for Arrow Farmquip, Livestock Handling Solutions.

“I have a lot of leads,” he said Sunday afternoon. “I was hoping it would be as good as it is today — I’ve been busy since 11 o’clock.” 

“Today’s been great — the best day ever,” said Brandon Groth, of Sherrard, Ill., area sales manager for Beck’s Hybrids, a family-owned-and-operated seed company in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. “We’ve sold seed to 11 new farmers, just today,” Groth said. “We’ve only been in this area three years. This has been the best show we’ve had in the three years we’ve been here.”