Low overall crop quality boosts price for sorghum

Low overall crop quality boosts price for sorghum

Peter O'Connor in his crop of Buster sorghum at "Korinivia", Blackville. Mr O'Connor was hoping to finish harvest this week. Photo by Ruth Schwager

Peter O'Connor in his crop of Buster sorghum at "Korinivia", Blackville. Mr O'Connor was hoping to finish harvest this week. Photo by Ruth Schwager


Sorghum prices have increased due to an oversupply of second grade grain.


AN OVERSUPPLY of sorghum two grain in Queensland has led to an increase of $40 a tonne at port for sorghum one since the beginning of harvest.

Sustained dry weather since planting has led to lower crop production overall, and a higher proportion of second grade grain than expected.

Australian sorghum planting was at a 24-year low this year, with just 441,000 hectares planted according to ABARES.

Nidera Australia origination manager Peter McMeekin, Toowoomba, said there was less sorghum one being harvested, but sorghum two was also down by 10 per cent in test weight.

"There's some evidence of downgrading on the Liverpool plains but we're expecting it's not going to be as drastic as what we've seen in Queensland," Mr McMeekin said.

Sorghum one grain is currently fetching $269/t at Brisbane port or $246/t to Newcastle, with sorghum two about $40/t cheaper going into the silo, and between $20/t and $30/t cheaper delivered.

“That’s a reflection of hopefully more sorghum coming off the Liverpool Plains,” Mr McMeekin said.

According to ABARES, exports of Australian grain sorghum are forecast to fall by about 40 per cent, reflecting a 39pc fall in production and lower feed demand from China.

“We’re seeing a little bit of container interest for the alcohol market in China,” Mr McMeekin said.

“And we’re about $US25 to $US35 dearer than the US crop for feed.” 

Most sorghum in the Moree area went to sorghum two, with high temperatures at flowering and filling leading to small grain with light test weights.

Agronomist Garry Onus, Landmark Moree, said harvest had finished in the area, with crops yielding from 1.5 tonnes a hectare to 3t/ha.

“We’ve had a terrible growing season – too hot and too dry,” Mr Onus said.

“The yields are good with the season we’ve had but quality has let the crop down.”

Harvest has begun on the Liverpool Plains, while some of the later sown crops are yet to be desiccated, according to Pursehouse Rural Quirindi agronomist Ben Leys.

Last year’s wet winter led to more back-to-back sorghum, but there’s been limited disease pressure.

“There’s still a fair bit to be sprayed out, especially on the southern end of the plains,” Mr Leys said.

“We haven’t had any disease problems, only a bit of heliothis at the start of the season, but it’s been a tough season moisture wise, but 

“The ones that got under rain were alright but anything that's missed out has done it tough. The hot weather in January knocked every crop around.”

Price improves for Blackville harvest

IT’S been a tough season for sorghum, but Liverpool Plains farmers who are able to harvest sorghum one grain are looking at better prices than northern NSW and Queensland growers.

For Blackville farmer Peter O’Connor, the price increase for sorghum one over the past month is very welcome considering the difficult growing conditions at “Korinivia” this year.

The 250 hectares of Buster and Taurus sorghum was planted on a full moisture profile at two kilograms a hectare, with 55kg/ha of starter fertiliser, in early November.

The hot, dry conditions have resulted in small grain across northern NSW, but Mr O’Connor’s crop was expected to make sorghum one grade.

“The three summer months were particularly dry, with no general rain,” he said.

”It’s been a very difficult season. I’ve been hearing that some growers have had very high screenings, but ours have been safely within acceptable limits.”

Rain came when it was too late, with Mr O’Connor planning to start harvesting early last week.

He hoped to finish harvest this week, depending on the weather, with the crop expected to yield 7.3 tonnes a hectare.

Mr O’Connor will store some sorghum on farm, with the rest going to silos at Willow Tree.

He’ll make marketing decisions once he’s finished harvest.

“In this climate I’d be inclined to store more on farm but we haven’t got enough room for it.”


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