Cooler weather puts brakes on early harvest
Cooler temperatures in the past week have delayed the promise of a start to grain harvesting in southern Queensland.
The onset of the cooler temperatures, which are 6-7 degrees cooler than normal for this time of the year, has dashed any chances for farmers in the western Darling Downs and Maranoa to make a start on early barley crops. After the welcome blast of warmer weather a week ago, temperatures slipped back to the low 20s across Southern Queensland. Early crops are starting to dry off but most are still lush and will be some weeks before they will be ready for harvest.
Chickpea harvesting is progressing in the northern parts of Central Queensland but areas south of Emerald are still waiting for crops to dry down sufficiently before starting.
Harvest pace is the best part of two weeks behind normal. In recent years GrainCorp’s Queensland grain deliveries have been under way by mid-October aided by the dry springs.
Farmers are always anxious to get started on harvest to limit any chance of weather downgrading in the event of a rain event. Longer term forecasts by the Bureau of Meteorology for wetter than normal October weather through most of eastern Australia has added additional weight for growers to get crops off as quickly as they can this year.
Temperatures are forecast to climb this week back into the low 30s, which will help crops mature and bring down seed moisture levels.
Domestic grain prices bounced last week after a sharp rally in United States futures markets.
Stockfeed wheat into the Darling Downs finished the week $4 higher at $230. Feed barley gained $5 to $207 delivered into Downs markets while sorghum was $6 higher at $206.
US wheat futures posted their largest single day rally in months after a surge in world wheat export business. A range of countries including Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria as well as several Asian destinations either bought wheat or issued a tender to buy wheat last week, stoking beliefs that the worst may be over in the global wheat market.
Most of the bearish news appears to be factored into global prices with traders becoming more focused on the strengthening demand at current price levels.
Last week the USDA released its October world supply and demand estimates report which confirmed heavy world wheat supplies. World wheat production marginally lowered to 744 million tonnes, which is still the largest crop ever and around 10 million more than last year.
Australia’s wheat production forecast was raised to 28.3 million tonnes.
USDA also raised world wheat trade as import demand increases as buyers take advantage of the current low prices. Wheat imports into India were increased by one million tonnes to three million tonnes after recent large purchases from Ukraine, as well as Australia.
Snow and rain continues to slow the remaining Canadian harvest. Heavy snow in the past week has flattened unharvested grain crops which is likely to result in further quality downgrading. Some are now saying that up to one-fifth of the Canadian wheat crop may be feed quality.