MODEST yields from the harvest to date are limiting traded volume as consumers sit on their hands and wait for bigger crops further south to hit the bins.
Wheat values in the northern and southern markets and barley in the north have softened as a result, while southern barley has firmed based on accumulation for boats booked to China.
Despite protein being surprisingly low for such a dry year, ample bread wheat is finding its way on to flour millers’ books, and into containers for export.
Malting barley continues to be the surprise packet, with lower-than-expected protein keeping volume away from the feed market in the north so far.
Harvest is almost over in Queensland and on the north-west plains of New South Wales, where patchy storms over the weekend delivered 25-100mm to some locations, ideal for those raring to go on sorghum planting.
|ASW wheat Downs||$443||$450|
|Sorghum Downs||Mar-Apr $440||$440|
Table 1: Indicative prices in Australian dollars per tonne.
Handy rain in north
In the week to 9am today, some summer-cropping regions had no rain, but others had welcome falls which will allow a small percentage of intended sorghum area to be planted.
Qld registrations include: Clermont 36mm; Dalby 40mm; Hannaford 42mm; Jondaryan 31mm; Moura 49mm; Southwood 70mm; Surat 32mm; Wandoan 47mm, and Yuleba 30mm.
Northern NSW registrations include: Krui Plains 31mm; Moree 15mm; Walgett 16mm, and Warialda 19mm.
Unofficial reports say a few locations had more than 100mm.
Goondiwindi-based Knight Commodities broker Gerard Doherty said months of dry conditions meant that even substantial falls have been soaked into dry ground.
“You’d have to call the Qld harvest 98-percent done now.”
Mr Doherty said quality of harvested wheat has generally been sound, with most deliveries grading as ASW or APW with protein at 9.5-11pc, and minimal screenings issues.
“People thought they’d be getting in the high H2s to PH; that hasn’t happened.”
However, some high-grade milling wheat has been delivered, and its narrowed premium over base-grade wheat has prompted growers to store it on farm or warehouse it rather than sell premium grain for feed prices.
While wheat has generally yielded 2.5-3.5t/ha, Mr Doherty said the earlier-maturing barley crops have been a pleasant surprise, with plenty yielding 3-4.5t/ha, and some up to 5t/ha.
“In barley, the yield was up…and early malting opportunities were there, but a month later, it was done.”
As the trade shifts its sights to an average-yielding southern NSW crop, and potentially an above-average crop in Victoria, Mr Doherty said growers were holding barley and wheat in the hope of a lift in bids from local demand next year.
“Guys have taken a longer-term view when it comes to selling their crop.
“People are looking at the market softening with the southern harvest starting…and we have unmotivated local sellers who are not seeing the bids they want to see.”
Mr Doherty said traders were starting to move on January cover aimed at the domestic market.
“In the past 24 hours, we’re seeing more inquiry from the local market for January plus carry, and we’ll start to see more interest on barley if temperatures increase.”
Barley is preferred over wheat in the summer months for its lower energy, and if China keeps buying barley at pace, northern growers may well be rewarded for holding out for a hoped-for rally come January-February.
Sources report GrainCorp is starting to close some up-country Qld sites, including The Gums on the western Downs.
Rain slows south ahead of heat
Light rain has fallen in southern and central NSW in the past day or two to pause harvest which is well advanced on the plains and outer slopes.
Riverina Independent Agronomy principal Neil Durning said yields across the Riverina were expected to be average.
“We had a terrible September, and I think that’s going to take a lot of the shine off yields, but October was kind,” Mr Durning said.
“We’ll be back to somewhere near average, and I just don’t think there’ll be that grain weight we were hoping for.”
Mr Durning said wheat yields of 3.5-4t/ha looked achievable, and that compacting subsoil after successive wet years may be restricting yield as much as limited in-crop rain.
“I don’t know if crops could really get their roots down.”
Mr Durning said other knocks to some crops have come through frost damage, and a band of hail has just hit some paddocks east of Henty.
Weather permitting, harvest for most in the Ungarie district north of West Wyalong is expected to finish next week.
“Harvest is moving very fast; there are big machines taking the crop off, and after the big yields of the past couple of years, it’s happening quickly.”
In Victoria’s northern Mallee, some early lentil and barley crops are being harvested.
Most growers in, north and west of the Mallee are expected to step into their headers next week, particularly if coming days bring forecast maximum temperatures of 36-40 degrees Celsius to south-eastern Australia’s cropping regions.
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