Rain may be too late for summer crops

Rain may be too late for summer crops

Cropping
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The planting window for sorghum is almost shut and farmers are reluctant to incur planting expenses with no soil moisture.

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INCREASED cyclonic activity in northern Australia in the past week has delivered torrential rains to the nation's Top End, with rain now forecast for drought-stricken farmers in NSW and Queensland.

Northern Australia has already seen two cyclones in the first two weeks of 2020, which developed into tropical lows, dumping torrential rains in the NT and WA's Kimberley and East Pilbara.

Widespread thunderstorms and showers stretching from Central Queensland down to southern NSW are forecast.

Weather models are predicting the Darling Downs will see 10mm to 30mm, with up to 40mm in Central Queensland.

NSW is also expected to see widespread rain ranging from 10mm to 40mm, with isolated falls of more than 75mm.

Unsettled weather in the past week has already resulted in isolated storms in the New England and Northern Tablelands. Falls ranged from 20mm to more than 70mm in some areas, with Armidale recording 30mm to 40mm.

Any rain comes too late to benefit the 2019 winter crop, which is almost complete apart from the southern most areas in Victoria. Summer crop plantings are also unlikely.

The planting window for sorghum is almost shut and farmers are reluctant to incur planting expenses with no soil moisture.

Even so, farmers are anxious to see the rain in the hope it may signal an end to three years of drought for many.

Any reasonable rain will help settle the constant dust storms, allow summer pastures to grow and help ease the high feed cost burden.

Grain prices have continued to strengthen in the past week, as the reverberations off smaller than expected harvests in WA and SA are felt in Queensland.

Stockfeed wheat bids into the northern Riverina are holding at $380 a tonne, with feed barley at $335/t.

Victorian grain prices, the only state to record a reasonable harvest, have continued to firm in recent weeks. Grain buyers are saying they are finding it hard to secure grain at these levels.

Late last week, the US Department of Agriculture reduced its forecast for Australia's 2019/20 wheat harvest to 15.6 million tonnes, down from 16.1 million tonnes in December and last year's 17.3 million tonnes.

Private analysts are saying the final crop will fall below 15 million tonnes, after the grain deliveries in WA and SA came in well below expectations.

SA's Viterra reported grain deliveries of 3.9 million tonnes as harvest draws to a close

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