Feedgrain Focus: Grazier demand bolsters easing values

Liz Wells June 27, 2024

A crop of wheat in the Mallee, where light rain is forecast in coming days. Photo: Matt Witney, Dodgshun Medlin

AS GLOBAL markets respond to the weight of the Northern Hemisphere harvest, feedgrain values in south-eastern Australia are finding support from grazier demand.

This is centred in South Australia’s South East, and Victoria’s Western District, where hay, pulses and grain is being bought in an ever-widening arc.

In northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, ideal growing conditions have consumers comfortable about new-crop hitting the market in volume from October.

Prompt Jun 20 New crop June 20
Barley Downs $390 $390 $360 $360
ASW Downs $390 $390 $368 $370
Sorghum Downs $348 $355 $330 $335
Barley Melbourne $350 $340 $340 $340
ASW Melbourne $360 $370 $370 $375

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

North trades sideways

Some excellent rain in parts of Central Qld this week has further brightened production prospects for the northern region.

Falls in the 24 hours to 9am today include: Capella 48mm; Clermont 55mm, and Emerald 36mm.

Much of southern Qld and northern NSW is forecast to receive 10mm or more in the coming week, ideal after a run of frosty mornings.

Cash bids shown to growers for current and new crop have fallen substantially in recent weeks, and traders and consumers are finding it hard to book on-farm sales.

“The offer side of the market won’t chase bids lower, and chickpeas are going to be the cash grabber for sure in new crop,” one trader said.

In Narrabri, AgVantage broker Brendon Warnock said growers were cautious about committing new-crop at current levels,

“We went through a period to the end of May on a rising trend, and it’s turned around now, particularly in the overseas wheat market,” Mr Warnock said.

On the balance sheet, Russian wheat exports being lower than currently forecast, and Indian wheat imports being substantial, have the most potential to be bullish factors in global pricing.

While growers are hopeful of a possible firming, consumers and exporters are looking at all the bearish factors in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the thriving local crop, to ratchet down their prices.

“Buyers have pulled back their bids, and there are not a lot of growers wanting to commit.”

Mr Warnock said this was making it difficult for some consumers to complete their buying for the coming quarter.

“There are still some tonnes to get filled in.”

Graziers scouting in south

The southern market has reflected two major influences this week: the global softening in wheat prices, and growing demand from graziers for barley.

This is confined to the Western District of Vic and the adjoining South East in SA, with sheep producers particularly reaching into the Wimmera, Mallee and even south-west NSW looking for barley and corn.

At Wagga Wagga, Peters Commodities trader Peter Gerhardy said “a lot of farmer-to-farmer trade” is taking place, even in pockets of the Riverina, as livestock producers look for a tipper or two of grain to supplement what little paddock feed is available.

“A few guys are seeing that third-tier market kick in, and that has the ability to inflate the normal domestic market,” Mr Gerhardy said.

A big corn harvest is making the summer grain a preferred option for graziers with lambing ewes to feed, and barley from the Wimmera is also being sought by graziers who normally have ample pastures for stock at this time of year.

Corn is trading at around $330-$340/t on farm in the NSW-Vic border region.

More showers are forecast for NSW, Vic and SA in coming days, which are enough to keep the winter crop ticking along, but insufficient to get pastures going in this coldest part of the year.

“Crops need 20mm; these frosts are zapping out any moisture that’s in the topsoil.”

“We’re going to see a ‘green drought’, where there’s something growing in the paddocks not under crop, but not enough to put stock on in.”

Mr Gerhardy said paddocks in the far south of NSW tell the story.

“Every paddock you drive past, there’s a feeder in the corner, or hay rolled out.”

“It’s going to be like that until the back end of August, when we can expect a few warmer days to come along and things to start growing.”


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