Risk El Nino could develop later this year

Elevated El Nino risk remains


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The Bureau of Meteorology says there is still about a 50 per cent chance of an El Nino evolving this year.

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Chances of an El Nino developing later in the year remain elevated according to the latest assessment from Australia’s government weather agency.

In its latest outlook, the Bureau of Meteorology said there was around a 50 per cent chance of an El Nino evolving in 2017, which is about twice the normal likelihood.

The Bureau said sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean have warmed in recent months, with the warmth progressively spreading. Many of the major international weather agencies are tipping this warming will continue. Seven of eight international models monitored by the Bureau indicate that sea surface temperatures will exceed El Nino thresholds during the second half of 2017.

However, some caution should be exercised as models have lower accuracy at this time of year, and there remains a significant spread in possible forecast outcomes, the Bureau said.

Other forecasters are already saying the impacts of any possible El Nino are likely to be mild, pointing to the recent stagnation in ocean temperatures in the mid-Pacific.

Locally, Queensland grain farmers are looking for more rain in April to back up the wetter than normal March. Queensland farmers have already started planting chickpeas on the back of the good March rainfall but are looking for follow-up rainfall to consolidate on the wet start.

Concerns for general April rain are greater through NSW and south eastern Australia, where many areas missed out on the benefits from the inland storms associated with Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Near-term weather forecasts for Australia’s cropping for the next week. Weather concerns will build so long as farmers continue to wait for a general autumn break across south eastern Australia, regardless of the chances of an El Nino developing.

Domestic grain prices edged higher last week, with signs that end users are seeking more coverage as they become increasingly concerned with the dry weather pattern across South Eastern Australia.

Sorghum prices into the Darling Downs jumped by $8 to $248 delivered, as prices near the seasonal highs set in March. Brisbane sorghum bids were $7 higher at $257. Smaller gains were seen in the white grains. Darling Downs stockfeed wheat was $3 higher at $238 while F1 feed barley ended the week up $3 at $219.

Grain prices were also firmer across South Eastern Australia, with southern NSW and Victorian bids edging higher as grower selling slows.

On farmer grain stocks are seem as sharply higher than last year following the record large 2016 grain harvest, but farmers have become reserved sellers as they wait for planting rain.

There is no shortage of global grain supplies, according to the latest monthly supply and demand report released by the USDA last week. In its April update, the USDA said that world wheat stocks were raised by a further 2 million tonnes to a record large 252 million tonnes, 11 million tonnes more than a year ago. Most of the increase was attributed to a downward revision in world wheat consumptions.

But its next month’s report that traders will be sweating on as it contains the first assessment of the 2017/18 harvest which is expected to show the first decrease in world wheat production in five years. However, already large carry over wheat supplies are comforting buyers, despite the expected decrease in production.

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