WIDESPREAD rain across NSW in the past week has come just in time for farmers in the central west and parts of the Riverina, but may be too late to salvage many crops in the north west of the state.
Much to the relief of farmers, most of the central west, Riverina and southern sloped received a general 20 to 35 millimetres of rain from the middle of last week extending into the weekend.
This was the best rainfall event for most farmers in these areas since May, and in some cases March.
It’s seen as crop saving rain by many farmers in the central west and parts of the Riverina, where they have struggled with dry conditions since the good falls in March. A large proportion of these crops were stunted, as growth stalled with the lack of moisture, with some turning blue as moisture shortages became critical for survival.
Crops have immediately responded to the rain. Crop colour has brightened overnight and growth has resumed.
Wagga Wagga has already received 35mm in the first week of August, which is two-thirds of the normal rainfall in the week of the month. This backs up the steady rainfall recorded in July.
However, last week’s rain may be “too little and too late” for many farmers in the north west of the state.
Coonamble, Walgett, Rowena, Garah and Mungindi received 10mm to 15mm for the week, where crops are more advanced that in the southern half of the state.
In some cases, crops have already shot up spindly heads while in others they have already withered in the paddocks with the lack of moisture.
Beneficial rains were recorded around Moree, North Star, Narrabri and the Liverpool Plains where farmers have enjoyed better falls through the growing season than western counterparts.
In a sign of the season, local grain prices ended mixed last week.
Northern grain markets continued to rise as grain buyers chased dwindling supplies with the poor crop outlook, while southern markets slipped with rain and weaker global influences.
New crop Australian Premium White (APW) multi grade wheat bids into Newcastle were $9 a tonne higher at $335/t port while Port Kembla prices slipped by $5/t to $285/t port.
Feed barley bids into Port Kembla gained $2/t to $257/t port. Old crop for feed barley through central and southern NSW remain well bid about $230/t on farmer on the back of strong feedlot demand from the north.
One of the messages from last week’s Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne was that feed lot grain demand is expected to remain robust moving forward.
US wheat futures posted the fourth consecutive weekly loss, now having tumbled more than 20 per cent from the highs in early July.
Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures fell by a further five per cent last week as selling pressure emerged on reports of large wheat harvests in Russia and Ukraine as well as sharp declines in corn on improving weather conditions.
Bumper yields in Russia has seen local analysts ramp up expectations of this year’s wheat crop to 74 to 75 million tonnes, which would top last season’s record harvest.
There is little doubt Black Sea wheat supplies will be huge, but below average quality and shipping capacity constraints may limit how much crop will be available for global importers.