Feedgrain Focus: Markets flat as grower selling thins

Liz Wells, 24/03/2023

Planting of dual-purpose cereal crops and forage brassicas is under way on mixed farms in the Cowra district of central NSW. Photo: Ross Graham

PRICES for feed wheat and barley have traded mostly sideways in the past week as growers in the north concentrate on harvesting sorghum, and those in the south sell pulses into the stronger market.

Domestic consumers are seen as adequately covered out to July in some cases, although good-quality barley in the north is getting hard to find.

News over the weekend that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended to at least May 18 has been bearish for global values, and trade sources say a pull-back in Australian grower selling has stopped the local market from following the softening offshore trend.

Today Mar 16
Barley Downs $415 $415
SFW wheat Downs $412 $415
Sorghum Downs $425 $430
Barley Melbourne $367 $370
ASW Melbourne $425 $425
SFW Melbourne $420 $420

Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.


Despite some patchy rain, the sorghum harvest in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales has continued at pace in the past week.

With rain forecast next week, growers are busy with getting their sorghum off and sold, defoliating early cotton crops and preparing for the winter-crop plant.

A spike in the market late last week, ahead of the Black Sea announcement, piqued grower interest in selling wheat and barley.

“Growers have been selling warehoused stocks through March, and now the depot bids are under the delivered market,” one trader said.

The result has been an upswing in inquiry from growers looking to sell wheat held on farm direct to consumers at higher rates than exporters are prepared to pay.

“There’s a fair domestic premium.”

However, most domestic consumers are covered well into May, with some booked into July, when they are hoping the weight of what is shaping up to be a big Northern Hemisphere crop weighs on world values.

Barley supplies in Qld and northern NSW are shrinking, and those feedlots which have not switched to wheat for the cooler months are sourcing it from as far afield as central NSW.

“Barley is going to be a bit of an issue with the lower test weights we’re seeing now; even good-quality barley isn’t that good.”

Sorghum has come under a little supply-side pressure as buying for vessels on the stem concludes and container requirements are covered for near-term shipment.


Some parts of southern NSW have had more handy rain, with registrations in the week to 9am Wednesday including: Condobolin 12mm; Cootamundra 34mm; Lake Cargelligo 9mm; West Wyalong 12mm, and Young 19mm.

Wilken Grain trader Andrew Kelso said conditions were still dry through the Victorian Mallee and into South Australia.

As fertiliser prices ease, growers are booking more for collection ahead of winter-crop planting, which has already started in early areas on oats and other dual-purpose crops.

The falling canola market is reducing area prospects for Australia’s major oilseed, although an early widespread break and a price rally could buffer the expected drop.

Mr Kelso said SFW and other off grades of wheat were selling mostly into the domestic market.

“Exporters are busy, and the domestic market’s pretty quiet; there’s enough grower selling to keep them satisfied.”

Growers have been selling faba beans into the export market bound for Egypt, and domestic consumers have been paying around $440/t for them delivered Melbourne.

Another source said on-farm storages appeared to be holding mostly faba beans and SFW-type wheat, with better-quality cereals mostly warehoused with bulk handlers.

“Growers are certainly well sold in the system,” the trader said.


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