Grain hopes fading  in dry North West

Grain hopes fading in dry North West


Ken Frater, “Millfield”, Narrabri, wants 50 millimetres to finish his wheat crop.

Ken Frater, “Millfield”, Narrabri, wants 50 millimetres to finish his wheat crop.

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RAIN and international markets will both weigh heavily on grain prices come harvest, particularly in the northern NSW where dry weather has limited production.

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RAIN and international markets will both weigh heavily on grain prices come harvest, particularly in the northern NSW where dry weather has limited production.

Grain marketer Damien Manson, AWB, said prices in the north could be capped as feed grain buyers hedge their bets and look to the south or central NSW for supply, at less or equal value.

“If there’s enough grain in the southern areas you’re likely going to put it on a truck and send it north rather than trying to chase grain in the north,” he said.

Australian Premium White wheat is sitting at $270/tonne and $280/t (Newcastle port) although it had been as high as $330/t earlier in the year.

Ag Scientia director Lloyd George said Australian export grain prices had decreased due to a number of countries including Russia and the Ukraine producing large amounts of wheat this season.

With prices being heavily dictated by international production, Mr George said Australian prices could spike if these production areas received bad weather during harvest.

However, the opportunity for upside was fast diminishing.

Recent rain, meanwhile, had topped-up moisture profiles in southern and central NSW, opening doors for growers to price into northern markets where the unrelenting dry continued.

“If they don’t see any rain in the next month it’s going to be likely growers will put some stock on the crops,” Mr Manson said.

“They’re looking at ordinary yields.”

The central and southern parts of the State were much better situated with the worst case scenario many crops in these areas set to yield at least two tonnes a hectare.

Rain in late August/early September could increase yields to three or four tonnes a hectare, and 30 millimetres to 40mm of rain would see this region over the line to harvest, he said.

The north needed far more help said Moree Local Land Services senior officer in cropping, Brooke Sauer.

She said rain had been patchy last week and most areas were in the marginal rainfall basket.

Narrabri grower Ken Frater agreed another 50mm or so would be “very useful”.

He owns “Millfield” where this season he is growing Lancer, Suntop, Spitfire and Crusader wheat, along with faba beans.

“There’s still plenty of moisture, but a good fall now would help the later wheat grow a bit,” Mr Frater said.

Only seven millimetres fell at “Millfield” in last week’s rain.

Unfortunately his faba beans were not going well, however; he thought aphid damage was the culprit.

Miss Sauer said a reasonable portion of northern NSW would need rain in the next week to avoid significant yield reductions.

Areas such as Narrabri and Belatta, which typically planted on full profiles, weren’t as desperate for rain.

The next three weeks were critical.

“If some growers don’t receive rain in the next week, they could produce an average crop at best,” she said.

She said a lot of farmers who hadn’t received decent in-crop rain were being conservative with fertiliser in case their crops didn’t get the moisture.

“Most people are sitting on the fence with fertiliser at this stage,” Miss Sauer said.

Along with the dry weather, areas in northern NSW have had cold temperatures and frosts.

Miss Sauer said some areas have had a few more frosts than usual which could be taking a toll on crops.

“Frosts would be making the lack of moisture even more prevalent,” she said.

In the north this month Tamworth received 10mm of rain, Narrabri 7mm and Moree 4.8mm.

In the Central West Orange had 51.4mm, Dubbo 45.6mm and Forbes 22.8mm.

In the south, Tumut had 48.7mm in July so far, Young 40.8mm, Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong both have had 27mm, and Finley 10.4mm.

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