CHICKPEA exports are expected to soar this season after this year's bumper pulse crop across Queensland.
Ideal seasonal conditions have allowed growers to achieve excellent yields for chickpeas across Queensland and northern NSW, resulting in a massive crop.
ABARES forecasts Australian chickpea production will exceed 800,000 tonnes in 2012 after a 70 per cent jump in the planted area. This will top the previous record crop of about 500,000t in 2009.
The bulk of the increase has been in Queensland and NSW, where production is expected to double last year's crop. The combination of good early rain followed by a dry finish proved ideal for chickpeas, providing ample subsoil moisture for crop development while limiting the risk of quality downgrading during harvest.
Exporters have reported strong demand into the Indian market for chickpeas, with more than 200,000t of bulk vessels nominated for export in recent weeks.
Overseas buyers were aggressively trying to buy desi chickpeas at more than $600/t earlier in the year on the back of Indian crop problems.
Prices have fallen back to sub $500/t as new-crop Australian supplies flow onto the market. Despite the recent setback, the combination of excellent yields and strong prices will see good margins for most chickpea growers this year.
Grain harvesting across Queensland is close to complete. GrainCorp said a further 100,000t of grain was delivered into their Queensland grain storages last week, taking this year's total grain deliveries to 1.5mt.
The vast majority of the deliveries has been wheat, but chickpea tonnages have been well up with this year's excellent yields. Northern NSW grain harvesting is also close to complete, with only tail end crops remaining to be stripped.
Overall, Australia's grain harvest is close to 50pc complete, with the bulk of harvesting expected to be finished by the middle of December.
Wheat protein levels continue to be lower than expected, with experienced crop watchers putting this down to the mild finish. Local feedlots are aggressively trying to secure feed barley supplies as the outlook for cattle feeding starts to improve.
Lower cattle prices are helping cattle feeding margins. The young cattle indicator price dropped to a three-year low last week and is now 10pc below last year's price after a flood of cattle hit the market with the dry spring.
Supplies of lower grade wheat are finding healthy demand as feed buyers move to secure supplies.