Markets

Feedgrain Focus: Mostly firmer on chronic truck shortage

Liz Wells, April 14, 2022

Trucks running grain to ports including Portland have limited carries available to service domestic consumers for prompt deliveries. Photo: CHS Broadbent

FEEDGRAINS have traded mostly steady to higher this week as storm lotto continues in the north and a record grain-export program is at full tilt in the south.

With Australia this week in the first of three holiday-shortened weeks, and Queensland with an extra one for its May 2 Labour Day, trade sources say finding available drivers to carry booked loads is a major problem.

COVID-19 cases have further tightened the availability of drivers.

Consumers appear to be mostly covered into early May to cover the Easter and Anzac Day holiday weeks, and are nipping into the market when trade and export shorts are not.

Today Apr 7
Barley Downs $365 $360
SFW wheat Downs $405 $390
Sorghum Downs $350 $350
Barley Melbourne $405 $400
ASW wheat Melbourne $408 $420
SFW wheat Melbourne $405 $405

Table 1: Indicative delivered prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

Damp in north

Rainfall has been very patchy and mostly light in the week to 9am today in Queensland, but New South Wales has had some big falls.

Registrations include: Brewarrina 55 millimetres; Coonabarabran 40mm; Dubbo AP 117mm; Forbes 57mm; Nevertire 38mm; Parkes 64mm; Trangie 80mm, and Wee Waa 13mm.

“It’s all about wet weather, short weeks, and less trucks,” Robinson Grain Toowoomba-based trader Anthony Furse said.

“We seem to be so focused on logistics.

“Everything is edging higher, offshore markets continue to increase, and we’re seeing lifts in prices.”

The tail end of localised flooding on the Darling and Western Downs continues to thwart some road movements.

However, sorghum is still getting to Brisbane in sufficient volume to fill incoming vessels, and up-country and metropolitan consumers are buying out of bulk-handling systems and from growers.

Concerns exist for Northern Hemisphere production, namely Ukraine as it weathers the Russian invasion, and dryness in parts of North America.

This has lifted global pricing, and Mr Furse said domestic coverage has had to advance regardless.

“Many consumers sat on their hands for a while.”

The Queensland and NSW sorghum harvest is now near the halfway mark, and trade sources say plenty is being sold straight off the header if the quality is good.

“Growers are happy to keep selling sorghum, and they’re making big decisions on what to do on new crop.”

“Market signals say to plant wheat.”

Mr Furse said some growers who have had big rain in recent weeks have need to repair storm damage to seed beds in paddocks prior to winter-crop planting.

Export on fire in south

As Port Kembla in NSW suffers issues borne from one of its two rail lines carrying grain being closed, the already weighty export task has increased at Victorian and South Australian ports.

“The domestics are struggling to get a look-in, and three short weeks is a challenge,” Wilken Grain trader Andrew Kelso said.

The southern market has this week seen a convergence on prices for ASW and SFW wheat and feed barley, with wheat weaker and barley gaining around $5/t.

Mr Kelso said most growers in Victoria and South Australia were waiting for opening rain.

“It’s very dry down here.

“Growers have got plenty of time…but they’d like an opening rain for Anzac Day.”

New-crop trade in wheat and barley is yet to shape up, but indicative bids into Melbourne and Geelong are sitting at around $400/t for ASW-type wheat, and $370-375/t for barley.

 

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