Grain prices are showing signs of a recovery as northern NSW farmers need another soaking rain to complete sorghum plantings.
Paddocks have dried out quickly in the past three weeks with limited rain after the good early October falls.
Last week’s general 10 to 15 millimetres has helped but fell short of the 30mm to 50mm farmers need to finalise the remainder of the sorghum planting.
How much sorghum has already been planted in NSW varies significantly from farm to farm.
Some farmers are saying they have already planted half of the intended sorghum crop and will wait until late November or December to finish. Areas that have missed the heaviest of the rains have made a start on sorghum planting but most of the crop is still to be seeded.
The early sorghum crops are off to a good start but will be soon looking for rain.
Seasonal conditions mean the 2018 NSW winter crop grain harvest will incredibly brief. The limited harvest activity in the northern half of the state is already winding down.
GrainCorp received 22,000 tonnes of grain in the week to November 12, lifting the total harvest deliveries to 43,100t. Impacts of drought are evident in the limited grain deliveries into the state’s bulk handling system.
GrainCorp deliveries are less than 10 per cent of last year’s drought reduced volume at the same time and less than 5pc of the five-year average.
Conditions are slightly better in the southern half of the state where the winter crop harvest pace is picking up. Yields are highly variable from area to area but there are pockets where yields and quality have been good.
Farmers have been surprised how crops have responded to the October rain. Many crops had already been written off following the dry September, with farmers conceding they wouldn’t bother putting the header in.
Although yields have been patchy, some farmers in the western Riverina are reporting paddocks that have achieved one tonne a hectare.
Some of this has been in paddocks they didn’t envisage harvesting a month earlier. Yields are expected to improve as the harvest moves into the southern slopes. Harvest pace is increasing in Victoria and South Australia.
Bumper crops in the West are a stark contrast from the disappointing east coast harvest.
Western Australia’s CBH had received 1.3 million tonnes of gain deliveries at the end of last week. Harvest activity is still contained to the state’s cropping areas where there are widespread reports of wheat and barley yields.
Feed barley prices in Western Australia have tumbled by $35 a tonne to $315/t Kwinana through late October and early November as farmer selling ramped up with the strong yields. The weaker tone in the Western Australian barley values filtered through to other states.
Exporters reported limited buying interest from overseas buyers for feed barley at current prices but demand for malting barley was emerging.
NSW barley values were about $10/t lower for the week as the Melbourne values softened. Ex farm barley in southern NSW was being offered at $410/t.
Wheat values were modestly lower as sellers emerged, aided by the softer tone in barley. Pt Kembla Australian Premium White was bid at $453/t.
Newcastle sorghum was $5/t higher at $385/t delivered.