GRAIN markets are holding firm due to uncertainty over yields and quality, but most of the state is desperate for rain to finish this year’s winter crop.
Growers in western areas have already written off some of their winter crops, choosing to feed cattle rather than harvest.
The rest of the crop’s not lost, but it’s going backwards, especially if there’s no decent rain very soon, according to AgVantage Commodities managing director Steve Dalton, Narrabri.
“Crops are getting very desperate, from central NSW all the way up to southern Queensland,” Mr Dalton said.
“Traditionally it’s quite dry in the west, but that dry is moving east rapidly and we’re starting to see crop stress and yield loss east of the Newell.
“If we were to get rain in the next week or by the end of September, some of the later crops would benefit, but the early crops are quickly running out of time. Chickpeas would probably benefit most from rain because they’re podding now.”
The hot weather is set to have a big impact on yield.
“A lot of the better looking crops have had fairly good vegetable matter because they had the good moisture earlier in the season, but those crops are really running out of moisture fast now,” Mr Dalton said.
“The eastern crops had set themselves up well but with no rain, the plant is now drawing more moisture out the soil, especially as it gets warmer.”
The hard finish means growers are expecting an earlier harvest, beginning in late October.
New crop wheat, delivered Downs, is trading at $330 a tonne, or $280/t to $290/t off farm, and barley is fetching about $315/t, also delivered Downs.
Prices are much stronger than at harvest last year, when wheat was trading at $225/t.
Chickpeas are making about $950/t for old crop peas delivered Downs, and new crop chickpeas are trading around $880/t.
Canola going into Newcastle port is fetching about $520/t, down from $545/t last year, but Mr Dalton said canola prices could increase based on quality and volume.
Faba beans are making about $250 off farm, and have been difficult to move, with a slow domestic market and limited buying from Egypt.
Mr Dalton said most growers hadn’t had the confidence in their crops to forward sell, and would wait until after harvest to market their commodities, when they’re sure of yields and grain quality.
He said grain prices were firm or above average, due to expected lower yields.
“And without rain I believe the prices will stay well supported,” Mr Dalton said.