It’s been a slow start for winter grain plantings amid the dry autumn, but hopefully this is about to change.
Weather forecasts have been largely void of any significant rainfall across central Australia through most of autumn. Dominant highs have been the major feature of the local weather landscape, making it difficult for rainfall to penetrate inland as well as resulting in warmer than normal temperatures.
However, there are signs this pattern may be starting to falter with the most recent forecasts offering widespread rainfall for this week.
Eastern Australia is forecast to receive its best rainfall event in months late this week as a trough brings moisture down from the north into central and eastern Australia. Much of south western Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are forecast to see more than 30mm for rain. Forecast models have maintained the expected rainfall for several days, which is promising, but the amounts are expected to be patchier through south east Queensland cropping zones.
Queensland farmers are anxious to see the rain, with many being forced to start dry planting winter crops because of the dry start to autumn. Mid-May rainfall would represent a timely break for Queensland farmers, allowing grain producers to seed wheat and chickpeas.
Subsoil moisture levels are still reasonable following the good March rain, although the warm dry autumn has dried the top soil.
New South Wales is also desperate for rain. Many farmers having stopped planting in the past 10 days as they run out of moisture, and were waiting for rain to continue.
Grain prices were little changed last week.
Old crop chickpeas remain firm at $1090 Brisbane, but new crop bids were softer. Next season’s chickpeas slipped to $900 for a September / October delivery. Good Indian pulse crops are said to be weighing on the new crop prices, although the market has remained surprisingly resilient.
Last week the Indian government raised its forecast of their wheat crop to a record large 97.4 million tonnes. The government said pulse production was 37 per cent higher than last year’s disappointing crop 22.4 million tonnes from 16.4 million a year earlier.
Wheat prices were mostly steady last week. Brisbane APW was steady at $243 and Darling Downs stockfeed wheat was down $1 at $246 delivered.
United States wheat futures finished last week modestly lower on improving weather forecasts for Northern Hemisphere crops.
The USDA delivered its May supply and demand report, which included its first take on the new crop 2017/18 crops, with no market excitement. The USDA raised old crop world wheat stocks, once again, in the May report. But the market focus is on the new crop, where heavy old crop stocks continue to comfort the market.
USDA said that 2017/18 world wheat production would decline by 14 million tonnes to 738 million tonnes. But this wasn’t enough to prevent a further increase in world wheat stocks. USDA said world wheat stocks in 2017/18 would increase by 3 million tonnes to 258 million tonnes. World wheat trade was forecast to decline slightly to 178 million tonnes, down from an estimated 180 million tonnes in the current marketing year.
Global wheat consumption will decrease slightly in 2017/18 to 735 million tonnes, down slightly from the record 740 million tonnes in 2016/17. Nonetheless, world wheat production is forecast to exceed demand for a fifth consecutive year. However, this is far from certain with May and June seen as critical months for European and Black Sea wheat yields.