AUSTRALIAN barley prices have become more competitive with other feed grains in recent months, but the lower prices have significantly boosted export prospects to leading markets.
Barley prices are currently sitting at between $180 to $200 a tonne at Port Kembla.
NZX Australia chief analyst Hannah Janson said barley prices weren’t booming as there had been a huge increase of national supply, which no longer matched demand.
Australian farmers had increased their barley plant in reaction to China’s appetite which had prices $20/t higher at this time last year.
This year, there’s a large national surplus of barley and another sizeable crop anticipated for the coming season, which Miss Janson said had reduced demand.
Prices were still looking reasonable for growers though, with a steady export program that’s been constantly increasing.
Saudi Arabia and Japan have returned as market contenders for Australian barley.
Miss Janson said in the height of China’s appetite for barley, these markets sourced their grain from alternative, cheaper options, as Australian prices were so high.
In March, a record 1.27 million tonnes of barley was exported, the highest amount of barley exported since March 2006, where 512 thousand tonnes was shipped.
Miss Janson said this increase was on the back of a record sized crop last year, ongoing demand from China and the return of demand from old markets.
Barley prices are relative to wheat prices and are much more competitive with other feed grains this year.
Miss Janson said barley was currently trading at $30/t under Australian Standard White (ASW) wheat.
With wheat prices higher than barley, and chickpea prices well above both, B and W Rural agronomist Peter Birch, Moree, said there wouldn’t be as much barley planted in the region this year.
Elders agronomist Adam Dellwo, Deniliquin, said barley planting was nearly finished for the year and the area planted was down compared to last year.
Mr Dellwo said most dryland growers increased their canola plant to replace barley to take advantage of better prices. There was still a sizeable barley crop planted as Mr Dellwo said growers had very few dryland cropping options.
Similarly, Local Land Services team leader for land services, Dale Kirby, Gunnedah, said there would be a much larger canola acreage than barley on the Liverpool Plains. Mr Kirby said producers had started sowing canola now in reaction to high prices but said there would still be a reasonable barley crop planted later in the sowing window.
Rain needed for a good start at Dubbo
WITH good rain predicted in the coming weeks, Phil Dowling, “Dunrobin”, Dubbo, is hoping for a promising start to the winter cropping season.
Three weeks ago, on minimal moisture, Mr Dowling planted Hindmarsh barley as well as a paddock of a new variety, RGT Planet.
This year, some of Mr Dowling’s barley area was reserved for more canola as it suited his cropping rotation and bottom line.
Mr Dowling said he also sowed some of his barley country with wheat, as again, it was paying slightly better money.
“You also get a lot more chemical options with wheat,” he said.
Mr Dowling said he kept barley in his cropping program this year to stick to his rotation.
The crop has had a good start considering moisture levels at planting, receiving nine millimetres of rain 10 days after planting, and another 6.5mm during two falls over the weekend.
Mr Dowling said the crop would need more moisture over the coming weeks to really get going, although it had faired quite well so far.
The barley was planted with 50 kilograms a hectare of Urea Pre Sow and 100kg/ha of CropLift.
Mr Dowling said he wouldn’t look into forward selling his barley crop and would instead wait to market it during harvest.
If the market’s not right at harvest, Mr Dowling said he could always store the grain on farm and market it as feed grain.
Mr Dowling said he still had some barley stored on farm from last year’s harvest.