Neutral fundamentals within the grain market leading into 2024 mean analysts are looking outside the sector for key drivers on pricing.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) the 2023-24 national crop is 46.1 million tonnes, right on par with the long-term average, meaning there is no clear supply and demand lead locally.
Those looking to the weather for a market push are similarly disappointed with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicting a return to neutral conditions in the critical autumn period with the current El Nino event fading.
Internationally there is also little to give people confidence as to whether the market will go up or down, with good crops in some parts of the world offset by issues and strong demand elsewhere.
Episode 3 analyst Andrew Whitelaw said with an unusually calm outlook in what has been a volatile grain market over the past five years he was looking outside direct industry fundamentals for potential drivers of the market.
"Obviously at this time of the year it's very difficult to make too much of an assessment about production prospects, but there are a few others I would be monitoring."
Firstly, he said the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin would continue to be critical to grain markets.
"The Ukraine story has been massive over the past couple of years and what Putin does next will have very big consequences on the market."
"At present things are moving relatively smoothly, but one thing we have seen is that the situation can change rapidly."
"It may be a long term change to markets if Ukraine is unable to export or we could see a short term spike on security concerns that then dissipate but the situation in the Black Sea will still be something to keep a close eye on."
Mr Whitelaw said macro economic factors would also be important.
"There is talk there could be a contraction in the global economy, which in turn changes grain demand patterns."
"For instance there is less demand for fuel, which brings prices back and then puts pressure on biofuels, which can influence many of Australia's major grain crops, from wheat to canola."
"Changing consumption patterns in south-east Asia if there is a drop in wealth leading to less meat consumption and a shift out of wheat based food back into rice would also be something to keep in mind.
"In saying that, demand has been very strong from Asia, so given our smaller crop this year I don't think there will be any immediate issues with finding a home for the grain."
At a farmgate level, farmers will look to wrest greater control of the price discovery process.
Managing director of Clear Grain Exchange Nathan Cattle said farmers were increasingly placing a higher emphasis on price discovery.
He said this could see changes to practices such as "private bids", where a grower is provided with a non-published price on the proviso that it is not shared.
"Farmers are increasingly taking an interest in determining what their grain is worth," he said.
This means they're looking to get greater transparency on the overall market, and private bids are not contributing to this."
"Private bids can be accompanied with comments about the price being above published bids and for special clients only, creating a perception that the seller is getting a special deal."
"However, farmers are becoming more comfortable questioning whether it is a good deal?"
"Rather they're viewing the private bid as simply another data point to help them determine the value of their grain."
"Farmers would generally prefer it was a "published bid" so the market was more transparent, rather than the murkiness associated with a private bid."
"Often there can be more buyers willing to pay the same price or more than the private bid given to an individual grower."
"If that the private bid meets the farmers price target, by all means sell, but how do farmers know what their grain is worth if they don't offer it for sale to every buyer in the market?"
"In transparent and efficient markets, the buyer with the highest demand and highest willingness to pay gets the grain."
"Looking ahead, I think we'll see farmers continue to push the trend of wanting more pricing information publicly so they are better informed on what their grain is worth."