Predictions of improved rain through southern Queensland in the spring comes as bitter-sweet news for many grain farmers.
Forecasts for improved rain in the coming months across south western Queensland and the Darling Downs cropping areas will be too late to save struggling winter crops but rain would allow farmers to plant summer crops to take advantage of the current strong feed grain prices.
In its latest three-month weather outlook, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said parts southern Queensland are likely to see wetter than normal weather conditions in September while other areas of eastern and south eastern Australia are expected to revert back to a more normal rainfall pattern. They said Western Australia is likely to be drier than normal through the spring months.
Day time temperatures during the spring months are expected to be warmer than normal across most of Australia, according to the climate update statement.
The bureau said both of Australia's major climate drivers at this time of year, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole patterns remain neutral. Climatic influences are likely to be more localised in the coming months, such as sea surface temperatures around the Australian coastline, they said.
September rain will have little impact on southern Queensland winter crops, which have struggled with the dry winter.
The abnormally dry weather over the past four months is likely to see Queensland’s wheat crop slip below one million tonnes for the first time since 2014 and it could potentially fall below 800,000 tonnes which would be the smallest in a decade. Some farmers in the western Darling Downs were unable to plant winter crops with the dry weather while other areas that were seeded are unlikely to be harvested.
Northern grain prices ended last week sharply lower as markets reacted to weaker global influences, despite the poor winter crop production outlook for Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Stockfeed wheat prices into the Darling Downs fell by four per cent or $13 a tonne to $302 delivered after benchmark United States wheat futures tumbled by 5 to 6 per cent last week. Stockfeed wheat bids into the Darling Downs have now fallen by $35 a tonne from the July highs. Feed barley and sorghum bids also pushed lower last week to $295 and $288 respectively.
United States wheat futures fell by a further 5 to 6 per cent last week on follow through selling from the USDA’s bearish August world supply and demand forecast. Unexpected large increases in the size of the Black Sea wheat crops by the USDA has acted as an anchor for global wheat markets over the past 10 days.
Good September rain and the current elevated feed grain prices through southern Queensland would result in a massive sorghum planting across the Darling Downs.
A bigger Queensland sorghum crop combined with tighter wheat and barley supplies could see northern feedlots swing back to predominately sorghum based rations for the first time in several years. Northern feedlots have swung away from using sorghum in recent years in preference of predominately wheat and barley based diets.