Feedgrain Focus: Harvest starts in CQ, frost impact feared

Liz Wells, 18/09/2023

Australia’s wheat harvest is under way in CQ. Photo: Brad Hallion

HARVEST has started in earnest this week in Central Queensland as frost sparks some yield concerns in pockets of the crop in New South Wales, where some growers are cutting affected areas for hay, or thinking about it.

Any significant rain in NSW in the past week fell mostly on the inner central and south-west slopes, and Victoria and South Australia had some handy falls, but few registrations exceeded 15mm.

The whole eastern Australian market is positioning itself for a year of drought, and sources report current-crop export accumulation into Newcastle has stopped as the domestic market consolidates above export parity.

Offsetting this are prospects for average or better yields in much of South Australia and Victoria, a situation which could change in a week or two if frosts and/or excessive heat impact the many crops sitting on little to no subsoil moisture.

Today Sep 7 New-crop
Barley Downs $470 $465 NQ
SFW wheat Downs $480 $475 NQ
Sorghum Downs $450 $450 NQ
Barley Melbourne $375 $365 $385
ASW Melbourne $420 $405 $425 up $5
SFW Melbourne $410 $400 $410 up $5

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

Conditions mixed in north

At Dubbo, IMAG Consulting director Matthew Shepherd said some crops in IMAG’s operating area spread from Coonamble to West Wyalong are likely to have experienced some damage from the weekend’s frost event.

“There were some temperatures that got down to minus 2.5 degrees; we’re not seeing those rapid signs you get with major damage, but there are pockets that have been affected,” Mr Shepherd said.

“There’ll be some stem frost in cereals.

“Quite a lot of our wheat’s in the boot now, and when those heads emerge in the next 10 days or so, we’ll see the results.”

Mr Shepherd said the season was a divided one.

“North of Coonamble, there’s not a lot of anything, and not even the biomass in the crops to give the option of cutting for hay.

“From Coonamble to Dubbo, some of those crops that have run out of moisture will be cut early because it’ll be quite good-quality hay.”

Traders and end users are offering around $350-$400/t for hay on farm, but Mr Shepherd said most growers will be taking their crops through to grain because reasonable yields are expected and prices are good.

“I don’t think there’ll be as much hay cut as people think from around our area.”

“We think we’re on track for average yields of 1.5-2t/ha of canola and 3t/ha of wheat on the back of subsoil moisture and a little bit of in-crop rain, maybe 120-140mm.”

Mr Shepherd said a shortage of urea in July and the first half of August is expected to show up in protein levels as well as yield ahead of harvest which will start next month.

In CQ, GrainCorp’s Yamala site opened last month, and sources report that both the Sizer & Coggill and GrainCorp depots are open at Mt McLaren.

Competition for CQ wheat straight off the header is fierce, with one trader saying offers from grower-brokers had lifted $10-$20/t this week.

Wheat ex-farm in CQ traded early in the week at $410/t, and is now thought to be well above that.

South ticks along

Consumers are seen as generally well covered in the southern region ahead of harvest, which is expected to start in the Victorian and South Australian Mallee next month with barley.

“It’s generally quiet, and the market focus is on dragging grain north for the domestic market,” Riordan Grain Services general manager Mark Lewis said.

“Farmers are getting phone calls from people looking to do that, and they’re thinking about it.”

China’s buying of carry-out and new-crop barley is believed to be taking place mainly out of Western Australia.

While the southern market has ample new-crop grain coming its way in theory, Mr Lewis said the pull from the northern market should not be underestimated.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -