Let the big race begin…

Peter McMeekin, Nidera Australia Origination Manager, November 1, 2016


Let the big race begin…

Setting a horse for the Melbourne Cup takes an enormous amount of planning, a good preparation and a great deal of hard work. Having a runner in the Melbourne Cup is the culmination of the above mixed with a good dose of luck. I guess this is not unlike the planning, preparation, hard work and luck that goes into successfully growing and harvesting a good cereal, oilseed or pulse crop here in Australia, or anywhere in the world for that matter.

By the time you read this the Melbourne Cup will have been run and won, but from a harvest point of view we have only just left the parade ring in most regions and we are making our way to the starting stalls. Around most of the cropping regions of Australia harvesters, chaser bins and trucks are positioning themselves for the start of the race, the race to get the grain in the bin as quickly and efficiently as possible, the down the long home straight to the finish line.

In terms of planning and preparation all that could be done has been done. Now it is the agonising wait until the crop is ready and the gates crash back for the start of the big race – harvest 2016! Yes, a few parts of Australia like Central Queensland, the Geraldton zone in Western Australia and pockets of South Australia have already commenced harvest, however, the real action is yet to begin in most cropping regions.

The only thing that can really change the final outcome now is the weather. Like most of the trainers with horses in the Melbourne Cup, grain growers Australia-wide are anxiously watching the skies, monitoring the weather apps on their mobile phone and praying that it turns dry and stays dry for the duration of the winter crop harvest.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology update is saying the wet pattern this spring is about to change with the pattern already turning drier in most states compared to September, which saw record rainfall in many regions of Australia. The biggest influences they say will be the negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which is gradually weakening and feeding less moisture across Australia and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which describes the position of the westerly winds that circle the globe between Antarctica and Australia. Models suggest these winds will stay further north than usual, leading to below average rainfall across most of Australia’s winter cropping regions throughout November.

All that is left now is harvest to move into gear, get the grain in the bin so that the marketing campaign can begin. I think it is safe to say the Australian grower is less forward sold approaching harvest this year than any year in recent memory. The price incentive has not been enticing compared to recent seasons, but the reality is we are in a world market place, we have a big crop about to be harvested and world prices are low at the moment.

The barriers are now loaded, the field is set, so let the race begin!


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