THE softer Aussie is giving grain prices a boost, but strong global supply of wheat, with large crops in Canada, the United States and the Black Sea region, is holding back what is set to be a record Australian crop.
The country’s croppers are expected to harvest 30 million tonnes of wheat and 10 million tonnes of barley in the largest grain crop since 2010-11.
The wheat harvest is expected to increase on the 2.9 million tonne crop of 2010-11.
Harvest is almost finished in southern Queensland, northern NSW growers are well into their crops, and harvest is heating up in the Central West
Headers are just starting to roll through paddocks in the state’s south.
Barley prices have improved in the past two to three months thanks to increased feed demand from China.
Barley was fetching $195 a tonne into Darling Downs and $189/t into Newcastle last week, according to Ag Scientia analyst Lloyd George, Melbourne.
“Barley prices have jumped $15 to $20 a tonne, maybe even a bit more in the export ports of Western Australian and South Australia, but that’s flowed through to the eastern states as well,” Mr George said.
Sorghum has also strengthened, improving by $15/t to $30/t since October to trade at $233/t delivered Darling Downs and $230/t delivered Newcastle.
It follows a tough season for sorghum last year as the large Chinese stockpile impacted buying activity.
Wheat is the only grain not to improve, trading at $227/t for new crop APW (Australian Premium White) into Newcastle and $210/t for new crop ASW (Australian Standard White).
Growers are making about $50/t less than during last year’s harvest.
“That’s down $5/t to $8/t on the previous week’s prices, which is a reflection of how much grain is coming in,” Mr George said.
“Australia will harvest record crop, about 30 million tonnes, with the big yields that we’re seeing, and globally, there’s no shortage of wheat, but all other markets are having quality problems, particularly Canada with the wet harvest and early snow.
“If we have good quality grain there could be an improvement and there’s some good protein around but generally it’s down on normal.”
Downgrades to the Canadian durum crop have given the Australian market a kick, with durum prices increasing by $30/t in the past month.
Durum is trading at $380/t into Newcastle for DR1 (durum one).
“Most of the Canadian crop has been downgraded and is no longer milling durum, which has provided an unexpected kicker in the market,” Mr George said.
High input costs pay off with yield at Spring Ridge
IT’S been a difficult year for disease and pests, but perseverance has paid off for Don Hubbard, whose DBA Bellaroi durum crop at “Cooininee”, Spring Ridge, has yielded an average of 8.3 tonnes a hectare.
The 500-hectare crop has performed well despite a constant battle which included three in-crop sprays and three fertiliser applications. It was first time he’d ever had to spray for heliothis.
“It’s the highest inputs I’ve had for durum – I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much money on a crop,” Hr Hubbard said.
“Given the constant wet weather we were worried about fusarium, but my agronomist Jim Hunt was onto it pretty early and we had enough fungicide. It was a matter of timing the spray on that and we seemed to have got it right because it hasn’t been an issue.”
The crop was planted on May 15 at 55kg/ha with 40kg of starter fertiliser.
“The profile wasn’t full but we had good planting rain,” he said.
The crop has since received 419 millimetres of rain, leading to Mr Hubbard doubling his urea application.
“The yield potential kept increasing because of the moisture, so we ended up putting 400kg down.”
The durum harvest began early last week and the team planned to finish this week.
The higher inputs have paid off with yield.
“It’s probably the heaviest crop I’ve ever stripped,” Mr Hubbard said.
Mr Hubbard hasn’t begun marketing his durum, but will warehouse it at Spring Ridge GrainCorp.