Durum prices soar

18 Nov, 2014 03:00 AM
There could be scope for prices to go higher again with the shortage of durum around the world

DURUM wheat producers in NSW will be best placed to take advantage of soaring world durum values, which are currently at close to $550 a tonne.

The price for the wheat used primarily to make pasta is around $250/t above the milling wheat price and reflects a scarcity of international durum stocks, following poor seasons in key production nations in southern Europe and in North America.

Tom Lucas, trader with Australian Growers Direct (AGD) in South Australia said international buyers were closely monitoring the Australian market.

“There is definitely a shortage of good quality durum globally, we’ve already had good interest from Italy for instance,” he said.

In terms of Australia’s major two durum production zones, it is likely growers in northern NSW will have more exposure to the higher prices.

Mark Hill, chairman of the Southern Australia Durum Growers Association (SADGA) said much of the acreage in South Australia and western Victoria was committed on acreage-based contracts to South Australian-based pasta maker San Remo.

“There is some uncommitted grain about, but I’d say around 80pc would be already contracted,” said Mr Hill who is based at Tarlee in the Lower North in SA.

He said the SA durum harvest was in its infancy, but he expected there to be problems both with protein levels and screenings.

“There are going to be issues, but it is going to vary, not even district to district, but paddock to paddock.

“We’ll definitely see some fairly good yields in places, and those that have uncommitted grain will be pleased.

“There’s not going to be enough grain in South Australia to meet the demand from exporters that’s for sure.”

Ross Durham, a durum producer from Mullaley, NSW, said it was a similar story on the Liverpool Plains.

“The yields on long fallow with good stored moisture could be as high as 6t/ha in paddocks, with plenty of 4t/ha crops, but on short fallow it is going to be very tough, around 1.5t or lower in places.”

Mr Lucas said he believed there would be a reasonable volume of Australian durum, but said quality would be closely monitored.

In NSW, Mr Durham said growers were generally pleasantly surprised with the quality.

“We were very concerned there would be high screenings, given the dry finish, but there is a lot of Durum 1 quality grain coming in.

“Some areas have had problems with screenings, but there is also some good grain about and protein levels are good.”

He said growers in his area were pleased with the prices, but were not rushing to commit grain as yet.

“There could be scope for prices to go higher again with the shortage of durum around the world, so people may hold back at least a portion of the crop.”

Both Mr Durham and Mr Hill said durum acreages in their local areas were down.

“With the dry years, growers cut down plantings overall, and in durum there was a concern about crown rot, so it was certainly lower in plantings than in other years,” Mr Durham said.

Mr Hill said the specialised nature of growing the crop meant some farmers had elected to go back to growing milling wheat exclusively.

“There are those that have dropped durum altogether and some have cut back on their plantings, but those who do have it in will generally get reasonable results.”

The durum Mr Hill has harvested so far has gone 3.5t/ha with good test weight.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


16/12/2014 2:36:46 AM

Always looking for good quality Durum Wheat Semolina.


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Why do they forget the small producers they are the backbone of the industry. What. Did this
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Good these guys will be able to help the farmers they are treating like second class peasants.
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Lets' hope Troy Grant doesn't Delforce's website or it will be yet another NSW