Feedgrain Focus: North firms, south sags

Liz Wells December 15, 2022

ASW and APW wheat is outloaded for export at Condamine on Queensland’s Western Downs. Photo: Jake Hamilton

SURPRISINGLY high quality from the Queensland harvest has tightened availability of nearby feedgrain in the northern market, while in the south, prices have eased.

A run of ideal harvesting weather has seen big tonnages of wheat and barley of variable quality hit the southern market.

While southern stockfeed millers know plenty of grain is available, short weeks and shutdowns over the Christmas and New Year period have quashed nearby demand.

Prompt Dec 8 Jan-Feb Dec 8
Barley Downs $395 $380 $392 $385
SFW wheat Downs $400 $390 $400 $392
Sorghum Downs $400 $400 $400 $380
Barley Melbourne $355 $365 $355 $350
ASW Melbourne $410 $432 $410 $405
SFW Melbourne $400 $427 $400 $395

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

Northern barley jumps

The northern feed barley market has risen $15/t in the past week to reflect the limited availability of F1 barley as preferred by many feedlots.

One trader said the rally has come about because barley has either exceeded expectations by making malt specifications, or come in at below the F1 minimum test weight of 62kg per hectolitre.

The wet growing season in most of New South Wales has seen maltsters accumulating more barley than normal in the NSW-Queensland border region.

“A lot has gone as malt, and only small parcels have gone as feed,” the trader said.

“A lot of feedlots prefer that F1 barley, and they’re having to bid up for it; there’s just not much of it around.”

While the harvest of wheat in NSW has made significant progress in the past week fortnight, it is running well behind its normal pace for December.

The impact is that bulk wheat export demand is high in the Brisbane and Newcastle port zones, and this has supported values for ASW and SFW-type wheat.

Planting of sorghum is now mostly complete in southern Queensland and northern NSW, and is about to start in earnest in Central Queensland.

Yield prospects for the crop planted into ample moisture are good, and trade in the red grain in the nearby remains thin as exporters focus on what protein wheat can be found in the boxed market.

South flattens

Prices for wheat and barley in Victoria and southern NSW have fallen by around $20/t to reflect big yields and an over-representation in feed grades.

While a few shorts exist in the southern market, GeoCommodities broker Brad Knight said values now appeared to be trading “mostly sideways”.

“Shorts on canola and barley are done, and now it’s the wheat’s turn.

Weather permitting, southern growers are expected to rip into their wheat harvesting ahead of Christmas now that canola and barley crops are off.

Mr Knight said the quality profile of the wheat harvest will determine the ASW-SFW spread.

“Moisture hasn’t come down to harvestable levels yet, but once harvest ramps up again, trucks will go back to harvest.”

He said the logistics factor was making consumers cautious about booking too many loads for delivery to mills.

in the next 10 days is expected  will be a lot of wheat done, and there are a lot of q around issue.

Barley shorts getting comfortable, and thinner at the end.

The spread between ASW and SFW in the prompt market has doubled in the past week to reflect quality concerns, but is expected to narrow if Victorian wheat comes in at mostly above 300 seconds on falling numbers, and with minimal distorted grain.

“Until this situation’s resolved around quality, that spread will stay where it is.”

NOTE: This is our last Feedgrain Focus for 2022. The next is scheduled to appear on January 12. On behalf of myself, Henry, Emma and all of us at The Centrals, Merry Christmas and all the best for 2023. Thanks for being a reader.



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