THE DOMESTIC Australian grain market is carefully analysing the potential of the upcoming sorghum plant and whether it will create a meaningful alternative to stretched white grain supplies.
Outgoing Agforce grains section president Wayne Newton said many northern farmers wanted to get a sorghum crop in, but said seasonal conditions would dictate whether it was a big production year or not.
“Certainly it has been a good start in some parts, but given it was so dry beforehand we have to get a handle on how much moisture there is for the crop,” Mr Newton said.
“There are estimates based off production of a million tonnes, that is something we can do quite easily, but if we were to push up to a bigger season, a 2m tonne crop, that would rely on the season.”
Mr Newton said given the drought conditions endured through eastern Australia for over 12 months, he did not think even a big summer crop would mean exportable surpluses.
“I think stocks will be tight, especially when you factor in the good cotton prices as well, people comfortable with growing dryland cotton may have a go at that instead of sorghum.”
He said he expected some feeders would continue to look for white grain where possible.
“Not every feeder likes using sorghum, in some areas, like feeder cattle, there is a strong preference for white grain.”
Nick Crundall, Market Check head of strategy, said the industry was watching the summer plant, and what areas have potential for planting already following the rain, closely.
“The summer plant is going to have a huge impact on the market,” Mr Crundall said.
“There are some spots looking well set up for a timely plant, such as the Darling Downs, while other areas, such as the Liverpool Plains, will still need a bit more rain to think about putting a crop in.”
However, he cautioned against making early predictions as to the size of the crop.
“There’s no doubt the plant will be big as people want to take advantage of the higher prices but all we can say for sure is that there has been a good start in some areas it will fall over if there is not good follow-up rain.
“Historically there haven’t been too many years we haven’t made a million tonnes, but to see the crop getting to double that a lot depends on there being adequate rain throughout the growing season.”
While NSW is yet to have as much rain as its northern neighbour, there are good falls forecast for much of the state’s cropping zone over the next seven days.
Some areas, including the Liverpool Plains, are expected to receive as much as 100mm according to Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) modelling, with more widespread falls of 25-50mm common.