A THREE-cent drop in the Australian dollar and market jitters over a poorer than expected harvest in Argentina have played into the hands of Australian soybean producers who have benefited from a price rise of nearly 25 per cent since March.
On the export market a wet harvest in soybean powerhouse Argentina downgraded total production slightly from 60 million tonnes to 57mt.
When combined with a reduced harvest in Brazil, this created a spike in the Chicago Board of Trade price from US860 cents per bushel in March to the current price of US1060c/bu.
On the domestic front, better prices for edible beans, in particular for varieties Richmond and Hayman, as well as emerging markets for produce that falls just below the 40pc protein mark, have delivered better returns for growers.
Edible beans are trading at $610 a tonne compared to $525/t for crushing beans, according to Shannonbrook Seeds proprietor Kerry Handford and Mara Global Foods proprietor Ross Larsson.
Australia’s slightly weaker currency, down from US76c to US73c, also helped producers entering the export market for oil-grade beans, according to Rabobank analyst Ben Larkin.
However, Mr Larkin warned that next year’s plantings in the US would be up with a greater soy-to-corn ratio predicted while Brazil’s weaker currency, at an historical low, would increase incentive in that country to plant soy.
Domestic production was significantly down this season with the vast majority of beans grown on the Northern Rivers rather than the Riverina, where just 1000 hectares were planted, according to Soy Australia field officer Joe Kochman.
On the Northern Rivers, production was down due to very wet conditions at planting time, with 10,000ha grown compared to 14,000ha in a good year.
That reduction combined with a hard, dry summer resulted in about 40,000 tonnes of beans harvested compared to 69,000t last year and 105,000t in the bumper season of 2008-09.
The Queensland soybean crop provided a mixed result with an astounding 5.6t/ha on a highly fertile and irrigated paddock at Cecil Plains on the Central Downs where a hail-damaged cotton crop was replaced with soybeans.
PB Agrifood field officer Ian Morgan said high nutrition played a part in the crop’s terrific yields.
By comparison, 3.2 t/ha was achieved on dryland country in rotation with sugar cane at East Coraki via Lismore in the Richmond Valley.
Protein levels in soybean crops around Bundaberg and Maryborough were very high, topping at 47pc, Mr Morgan said.