Feedgrain Focus: Markets lift as rain clouds harvest

Liz Wells, 26/10/2020

Harvesting wheat yesterday at Bil Bil between Lightning Ridge and Goodooga. Photo: Henry Wells

PROMPT markets for wheat and barley have rallied as consumers and exporters scramble to book and receive grain amid a rain-interrupted harvest in southern Queensland and north-west New South Wales.

While plenty of grain is still being harvested around the storms and showers scudding in from the west, the market’s challenge is getting growers to part with it in a rising market.

The rain has revived the inverse for nearby grain, when fine weather for harvest in NSW and Queensland in the past week would have seen it collapse completely.

Logistics is also emerging as an issue for trucks booked to collect grain from farms which do not have all-weather access.

This week Last week Change
Barley Downs Oct-Nov $260 $245 Up
Barley Downs Jan $263 $258 Up
Barley Melbourne Oct $260 $260 Up
Barley Melbourne Jan $252 $245 Up
Wheat Downs Nov $315 $295 Up
Wheat Downs Jan $312 $303 Up
Wheat Melbourne Oct $345 $340 Up
Wheat Melbourne Jan $333 $315 Up
Sorghum Downs Oct $335 $335 Steady
Sorghum Downs Mar-Apr $295 $300 Down

Table 1: Indicative delivered grain prices in AUD per tonne.

North tightens

Wheat and barley is flowing into storages in northern NSW this week to reflect the frenzied harvest activity ahead of up to 50 millimetres forecast to fall in coming days.

However, many growers are storing most or all of what they are harvesting in their on-farm silos and bunkers as they look to minimise grain truck movements on dirt roads in wet weather.

Growers also wish to capitalise on the rising market, and cover their own livestock feed requirements should next year turn dry.

In other words, few are in a hurry to sell grain they have not already committed.

Stewarts Grain trader Robert Quinn said those with high-quality grain can see only upside if harvest in NSW gets wet and stays wet, and deliveries into downgraded segregations swell.

Mr Quinn said a shortage of trucks to cart grain to depots and consumers could well be a problem in the next week or two.

“By then, harvest will be moving south and they’ll need trucks there as well as where they’re harvesting now.”

“There’s a lot of people looking for prompt barley, and there’ll be a premium for it for the next week or two.”

The first cargo of new-crop wheat from NSW will be loaded next month in Newcastle, and rail is expected to carry the bulk of the tonnage to port from or through Moree as a major accumulation hub.

Wheat from the north-western edge of NSW’s cropping belt is already flowing south to consumers in the Riverina in a complete reversal of the south-to-north flow of grain seen in the past two years.

Feedlots as the largest consumers of grain in country Queensland are sucking up a lot of pre-bought barley and some wheat from local farms, some of which are a few days away from finishing harvest.

On sorghum, new-crop values have softened because rain in southern Queensland will encourage further sorghum plantings, and benefit the yield outlook for crops already in the ground.

South behind schedule

Consecutive rains in parts of Victoria have slowed the crop’s final growth stages.

“It’s already running about two or three weeks behind where it normally is, and there doesn’t appear to be much old crop,” Melaluka Trading director Michael Fitzgerald said.

Grain Central understands Victoria’s shipping stems are booked solid from December until about March, and the slowed arrival of the Victorian crop, on top of rain delays already affecting the NSW harvest, has some consumers scrambling for nearby coverage.

“There’s certainly a premium in the prompt market.”

Mr Fitzgerald said a premium for November-December grain over January grain had started to develop.

“It’s going to be a a juggling act with the weather.”


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