Feedgrain Focus: Yield-saving rain boosts supply outlook

Liz Wells, October 5, 2023

A wheat crop north of Wagga Wagga under some handy rain yesterday. Photo: Andrew Treweeke, Westpac

PATCHY rain across south-eastern Australia this week has bolstered production prospects for the upcoming harvest, but done little to boost traded volumes.

Consumers are generally covered, or close to it, into new crop in the southern market, and are snapping up loads straight off the header in the north.

On barley and wheat, price moves have been mixed and moderate.

Retained hopes by growers of a further rally in prices, as well as uncertainty about yields and quality, have kept new-crop selling to a minimum in the southern market.

Cool and cloudy conditions over much of south-eastern Australia this week will delay the rapid ripening of crops, while in southern and Central Queensland, harvest is ramping up under mostly clear skies.

Today Sep 28
Barley Downs $465 $460
SFW wheat Downs $465 $470
Sorghum Downs Mar-Apr $430 $445
Barley Melbourne $380 $375
ASW Melbourne $420 $422
SFW Melbourne $420 $420

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

North buys locally

Harvest progress in Qld and northern NSW has reduced demand for barley brought north by road, or  transshipped from southern Australia for unloading in Brisbane.

Loads from the Goondiwindi region and CQ are making their way from the paddock to feedlots on the Western Downs, and while the heartland of Australian feedlotting has a barley deficit for 2023-24, local supply looks assured for the next few months.

“There’s plenty of barley coming off in northern NSW, and around Goondiwindi and on the Western Downs, and we’re starting to see new-crop wheat too from around Surat and Roma,” one trader said.

Commencement of the southern Qld harvest means boat barley ex Brisbane is expected to supply coastal and Brisbane Valley consumers until new-crop volume slows.

Rain in the 24 hours to 9am today was very patchy, but has underwritten yield potential for crops lucky enough to jag 10mm or more.

In northern NSW, higher registrations in the past day or two include: Coonamble 23mm, Gunnedah 18mm, and Moree and Narrabri on 13mm.

At least 50mm of further rain will be needed to spark a widespread planting of dryland cotton, sorghum and maize.

Southern rain a saviour for some

Locations which registered significant falls in central and southern NSW in the past day or two include: Condobolin 20mm; Cowra 26mm; Grenfell 35mm; Parkes 25mm; Temora 26mm; West Wyalong 21mm, and Young 37mm.

In Victoria, parts of the Mallee and Wimmera picked up 10-30mm and more in places, with Ultima on 43mm recording the highest grainbelt figure.

Other Vic registrations include: Annuello 31mm; Horsham and Murrayville 10mm; Sea Lake 30mm; Rupanyup 15mm, and Woomelang 24mm.

However, many locations missed the rain completely, while others got only a few millimetres.

At Young, Focus Grain principal Michael Jones said on-farm prices were down about $20/t from their peak of two weeks ago.

“That was when everyone thought the whole crop was going to die; that was peak panic,” Mr Jones said.

Young was one of the districts to receive general and substantial rain this week, and Mr Jones said its benefit has been instantly visible in the crop.

“You can see the difference today;  it’s a different shade of green.”

Some later crops could add up to 1t per hectare to their yield potential if they received 25mm or more of rain this week but for most crops, the rain will simply arrest the slide in yield potential after a hot and dry spell.

“This rain will bring the canola home by helping oil levels, and wheat’s prospects will stabilise.”

Mr Jones said consumers were generally covered into harvest, which will start on the outer slopes with windrowing of canola once paddocks dry out and weather warms up again.

“Trade is pretty steady and pretty thin in the delivered market for all grains.

“Most growers have cleaned out what they had on farm, and warehoused grain is even thinner.”

Viterra received its first loads for the current harvest at seven SA sites this week. Photo: Viterra

Further south, this week’s rain has been significant for many crops from the Mallee to Central Vic, and has been the difference between some cereals being cut for hay and taken through to grain.

In South Australia, most crops scored only single-digit rainfall, but some locations like Blyth on 17mm, Clare on 13mm, Melrose on 27mm, Pinnaroo on 10mm had handy falls.

Harvest progress is ramping up in SA, with major bulk handler Viterra this week reporting first deliveries into its sites at Arno Bay, Cummins, Lock, Penong and Wudinna on Eyre Peninsula, Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula, and Adelaide’s Inner Harbour.



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