THE EAST coast grain market is reacting cautiously to a complex series of weather events that could have both positive and negative implications for farmers according to what stage of the season they are at.
Heavy rain has fallen in many parts of Victoria, Queensland and NSW over the past week, with some areas receiving in excess of 80mm.
The rainfall is being welcomed by those in Queensland and far northern NSW where harvest of the winter crop is nearly completed and the rain will come in useful for summer crops.
Further south, through central NSW and northern Victoria, with crops due to be harvested, farmers are concerned the rain may downgrade the crop to feed quality.
In far southern Victoria, where crops are still green, there are hopes the rain may help plants generate extra yield after frost damage earlier in the month.
Vice president of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Brett Hosking said the eastern Mallee had recorded heavy falls.
“We had 45mm here at Quambatook, which is a nuisance, but further north at places like Kerang there was 70mm and the farmers in that area are worried about potential downgrading,” Mr Hosking said.
He also said yield will be lost, especially in lentil crops.
“Where the rain came down heavily you would expect it would shatter lentil pods and push the seed onto the ground.
“It is hard to say until we start going again, but in our case I would expect the paddock we had just started prior to the rain that was going two tonnes to the hectare may be 1t/ha or a little lower now.
“It is an absolute unknown but I am certainly not very confident.”
Adam Robinson, Robinson Grain, said heavy rain in parts of the Central West of NSW could lead to downgrading.
“It only really hit over the weekend, but certainly places like Parkes, which had a lot of rain, farmers would be nervous about quality issues,” Mr Robinson said.
“The rain ranged, people had 15mm, which was probably only nuisance value, up to 75mm, which is a worry.”
“The key now will be what comes next and we are watching to see if the rain event forecast for later this week comes through or not.”
Mr Robinson said prior to the rain, yields through the Central West had been slightly below grower expectations, but added exceptional quality had compensated to an extent.
“Obviously it has been a tough year with the dry season, but protein is higher than people thought and grain size is also excellent which is great.”
Andrew Jurgs, regional trading manager with Emerald Grain, based in Toowoomba, said there were only isolated pockets of weather damage in the Darling Downs winter crop.
“Generally yields have been down, but quality has been excellent.”
He said feedback had been that yields were slightly better than expected prior to harvest.
Mr Jurgs said the industry was now looking at a solid summer cropping season.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have around 70pc of the summer crop in the Brisbane port zone now planted, and further south in northern NSW I would expect that figure is around 60pc.”
He said sorghum was in favour among summer croppers.
“There is some dryland cotton going in, but rotationally and price wise sorghum makes sense for a lot of people.”
He said the feedlot sector was buying cautiously at present, factoring in good supplies of sorghum once this year’s summer crop comes online.
“It is all hand to mouth buying at present, I think they have an eye on the summer crop coming in and the availability of cheaper sorghum then.”
David Johnson, Emerald Grain chief executive, said early data from deliveries made after the rain at Emerald’s Victorian sites suggested there had been little damage.
“It’s only early days and people are still primarily on barley and canola in the catchments for our sites, but the quality appears to be holding up.”
In NSW, he said sites such as Ardlethan and Goolgowi were not receiving as much grain as last year due to the poor season, while harvest is yet to truly gear up in the catchment for Emerald’s other Riverina sites at The Rock and Coolamon.