SUMMER has walked in the door baring Christmas gifts of between 25 and 70 millimetres of rain. This is a very appropriate present for the North Western Plains as it will do an immense amount of good.
Falls of up to 70mm on the south western side of Walgett are reigniting the flame of hope that was almost extinguished for croppers and graziers after a very long, dry spell. This is the most significant general fall for us since January.
In the Coonamble district, with only three weeks to go before 2017 officially finishes, most properties are still about 150mm short of their annual average. This equates to about one third of the commodity that all rural operations are totally reliant on.
- Records broken as weekend rain falls across NSW
- Wool market jumps, again
- Grass fever drives cattle market in 2017
The upside is that most producers live with these situations. They have to. They get used to turning lemons into lemonade, somehow.
Any follow up will now be useful. The way the rain fell here, every drop has counted.
No doubt there are still some farmers waiting for some chickpea crops to ripen so it’s lemons for them, but considering there was almost no harvest this year in the area, I’m tipping that’s the least of their worries. They can now get on with planning and saving this moisture for next year.
It’s difficult to summarise a year like we’ve just been through. I guess everybody was dealt the same cards (with the rain that fell, or didn’t) but it seems to me the graziers may have finished slightly ahead.
The cattle market eased, as expected, and the sheep and lamb markets continued their bull run. Although many sheep producers had to feed their stock, they got paid for their diligence.
Even though processors have lost the margins of previous years, cattle prices were still sustainable for both the trader and the breeder. No doubt this recent rain will fan the flames of the restocker market and we will see the spread of grass fever.
Livestock agents will be watching intently as their clients weigh up projected margins coming into the weaner selling season. I hope caution is exercised as 400 cents a kilogram needs to have everything going right to achieve a margin at 300c/kg for a feeder or 280c/kg for a bullock.
Overall, I would have to give it to the sheep and lamb producers as ahead. The re-emergence of the wool market as a standalone industry has enabled sheep breeders to balance their production and has definitely improved equity on some of the marginal western country.
I thank The Land for the opportunity to share our seasonal report with you all and wish all readers a safe and happy Christmas and a lemonade new year.