Poor yields, strong price as harvest stumbles south

Henry Wells October 31, 2017

THE HARVEST epicentre on the eastern seaboard is moving through southern Queensland and north-west NSW where warm, dry days are giving headers an open run at stripping a mixed bag of winter crops.

Wheat harvest west of Dalby last week. (Photo: Cliff Weier)

Growers in the NSW/Queensland border regions are close to finishing harvesting this year’s wheat crop.

Knight Commodities broker, Chris Groat, Goondiwindi, was upbeat about harvest outcomes in the region, saying growers were pleasantly surprised by the quality of wheat and barley.

“There’s a big range of yields though.  In the west where the rain was limited, yields are down. Yields elsewhere are slightly above growers’ expectations, and the quality on grain harvested prior to the rain was fantastic,” he said.

“While some wheat and barley is moving straight off the header to consumer markets, the majority is going into storage.”

On account of strong feed markets driving values higher, it would appear that northern NSW and southern Queensland grain would be consumed mostly in domestic markets, reducing Queensland’s bulk export tonnes through the depot.

“Prices week ending 27 October for grades of wheat into feed rations were up A$10-15/tonne from the previous week.”

Feed barley was up by similar amounts. Barley was quoted delivered Darling Downs A$315/t November/December, and wheat A$325/t. January delivery price for both commodities was quoted around A$6/t premium.

Harvest pressure has trimmed values again over the weekend.

Strong feed prices, modest protein premiums

Woods Grain managing director, Bruce Woods, Goondiwindi, said another clear week would see the wheat harvest finished in the area.

“While some growers didn’t harvest anything this year, those who got a crop haven’t done too badly,” he said.

Mr Woods said there was a lot of prime hard wheat around and although new sales were slowing down, the resilience of the feed market had allowed prices to remain strong.

Good new crop supply, along with carryover stock of premium milling wheats from the 2016/17 record crop, had capped protein premiums this harvest.

Growers were seeing differentials of between A$10-20/t depending on protein level.

However, Mr Woods said rain at harvest had caused sprouting and downgrades this year.

“If a crop has any sprouting, and a grower wants to put wheat into farm storage hoping to sell it into a premium milling or export market later on, they need to get a falling number test certified at an independent lab.”

GrainGrowers’ Queensland and northern NSW regional coordinator Susan McDonnell said the region’s conditions had been extremely variable and patchy.

In northern NSW, southern and central Queensland even the best crops, though achieving perhaps 3t/ha to 5t/ha, were mainly below average.


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