Feedgrain Focus: North drifts, south softens in thin trade

Liz Wells July 28, 2022

While conditions remain excessively wet in parts of NSW and Queensland, crops in South Australia and Victoria are tracking well, and some are in need of a drink before the weather warms up. Photo: James Stacey, Strathalbyn

PRICES for feed wheat, barley and sorghum have moved little in the past week in northern markets, while southern wheat values have dropped by up to $20 per tonne in thin trade.

The reopening of the Blue Mountains line this week has allowed a backlog of containers carrying agricultural and other commodities to move from central NSW to Port Botany.

The line has been open for 12 hours a day since Monday, and will be open around the clock from Saturday.

With the Hunter line to Newcastle and Gunning on the Melbourne-Sydney line also reopened, services have now resumed on all lines closed by rain-related incidents earlier this month.

Today July 21
Barley Downs $390 $390
SFW wheat Downs $405 $410
Sorghum Downs $350 $345
Barley Melbourne $390 $390
ASW wheat Melbourne $420 $440
SFW wheat Melbourne $410 $425

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

Inverse narrows

Riordan Grain Services manager Mark Lewis said current-crop values have fallen to the point where they have just about converged with new crop, and both are trading in limited volume.

“There’s not a lot of traction,” Mr Lewis said.

“With the Northern Hemisphere harvest happening, and all the uncertainty around Ukraine, people are just executing what they’ve got.

While barley in volume appears to be dwindling, traders say indications are that plenty of wheat is still warehoused or held on farm.

“It still feels like there’s a lot of wheat around.

“I would expect to see that start to come out to a bit of carry given there’s plenty of wheat around.”

At Young, Grain Focus broker Michael Jones said the southern NSW market has softened, and is down around $10-$15/t for wheat.

“Barley’s hard to place but wheat is going to port,” Mr Jones said.

“The upcountry guys are covering for September; you’d be struggling to find August homes.”

Mr Jones said some growers were selling ahead parcels of around 50-100t., and SFW delivered Port Kembla has been traded this week at $410/t.

GeoCommodities Brad Knight said the Victorian market was “up and down like a yo-yo” based on global market perceptions about how likely Ukraine was to start exporting grain in the near term.

“Some of the bids are $10 either side of where you might think the market is,” Mr Knight said.

North takes a breather

A backlog of bulk and containerised grain going into Brisbane has slowed trade to a new level of quiet this week.

On the Liverpool Plains, Quest Commodities broker Chris Johnson said the market was “very sideways” in thin trade.

“A lot of consumers have covered themselves for now, and the grower is sitting on their hands.”

This follows a fitful end to the cotton harvest and winter-crop planting, with some growers only completing their program in the past week or two with some late barley or durum.

Early winter crops in northern NSW and southern Queensland are expected to hit the bins in late September, and consumers are now seen as largely covered until then.

Recent trades delivered consumer on the Liverpool Plains include barley at $345/t, and SFW wheat at $400/t.

One trade source said feedlots were hesitant to extend coverage as they are comfortable in the near term, and are concerned about biosecurity risks amid the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease arriving in Australia.

Cottonseed supply stabilises

Cheaper cottonseed ex gin prices emerged this week as supply from gins filled the gaps caused by the late start to the season, according to Woodside manager Hamish Steele Park.

“Ginning will likely push out till Oct/Nov this year in some valleys.

Container export demand continues to pay large premiums amid the complexity of logistic problems such as rail disruptions behind Sydney, shortage of trucks and shortage of packing space.

“Container values however have not fallen much and continue to quote about $545/t September 2022 delivered container terminal.

The profile of demand in export markets affects what individual importers will pay.

“China export demand has backed off with the sell-off in global oilseed markets.

“The China market is more sensitive to oilseed values as the majority is used in crush, while export markets like Japan and Korea have a higher feed grain component in their demand.

Domestic feedlot buyers appear standing aside for the moment at the same time as supply from gins has become more assured tipping gin prices lower.

“Ex gin and delivered cottonseed values have eased over the past couple of weeks.

“Prices in northern NSW and Queensland were $5-10/t cheaper this week, ex Gwydir and Namoi Valley sites quoting about $310/t.

“Central NSW values were off $20/t this week, Macquarie Valley quoting $315/t from $335-340/t a week earlier.

“Riverina ex gin values, from $410/t a week ago, are now under $400/t.


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