THE month of November is traditionally the key harvest month across most grain growing regions of Australia and barring any significant rain delays it appears that trend will continue in 2017. Receival volumes are picking up across the country and quality trends are starting to emerge.
In Western Australia total receivals are now more than 3.5 million tonnes. The wheat, barley and canola harvests are around 15, 40 and 90pc completed respectively. The wheat quality profile is currently running quite similar to last year with more than 68pc hitting the Australian Premium White (APW) or Australian Standard White (ASW) bins.
All eyes are now turning to the South American summer crops for market direction.
On the other hand, the barley quality is quite different to last year, with the malting barley selection rate currently running at around 23pc compared to around 35pc in 2017. Low protein is the primary quality parameter contributing to the lower proportion this season.
The acceptable protein range for malting barley in the Western Australian receival standard is 0.5pc higher than the Grain Trade Australia receival standard used in all other states of Australia. That means that receivals of malting barley varieties with protein less than 9.5pc are either going into a Malt 2 segregation or into the feed bin.
In South Australia the system deliveries have now exceeded 1mt since the first load was received back in late September. Slow maturing crops due to the mild spring weather and the odd rain event have frustrated the pace of harvest over the past month.
The average protein of the wheat harvested across the state thus far is higher than last year which is certainly not surprising considering the vastly different growing conditions this year compared to last. On the barley front, the malting selection rates are running at around 35pc statewide which is comparable to long-term the average.
It is very early days in the Victorian harvest cycle with receivals into the system a little over 200,000mt. Headers are going hard in parts of the Mallee but at the opposite end of the scale, harvest in parts of the Western Districts could easily be a Christmas affair as many crops are still quite green.
As usual, the spread in harvest progress in NSW is quite dramatic. Receivals into the bulk handler system are around 650,000mt statewide but this is an extremely poor indicator of harvest progress these days. In recent years, the increase in on-farm storage capacity has been phenomenal as growers look to bypass the bulk handling system to maximise their returns.
In the south of the state, progress has been quite slow but a run of favourable weather will see a lot of the harvest completed in a short period of time as the contract harvester capacity moves through the central part of the state and into the south quite quickly.
On the whole, most growers north of Gunnedah will finish this week if they haven’t already done so. On-farm storages are full to the brim in this part of the world. The domestic market will be the key driver of demand this season with the southern Queensland drawing arc extending well into NSW in search of willing sellers.
In Queensland, the winter crop harvest is done and dusted for all but some later sown inner Darling Downs crops. It is all about the summer crop now and there is certainly plenty of optimism around sorghum as Hughie continues to deliver the required rain in most summer cropping regions.
Meanwhile, across the globe, planting of the northern hemisphere winter crop progresses without any substantial red flags. Likewise, harvest of the summer crops is winding down and high yields continue to add to the burdensome global feed grain complex.
Global grain markets are now entering a relatively benign phase. The southern hemisphere production is now known. In the northern hemisphere, summer crop production numbers have been locked in and, by all reports, the winter crop is going into the winter dormancy period in good condition.
All eyes are now turning to the South American summer crops for market direction. However, with the crop still in the planting phase in many regions, many a tango is yet to be danced before that is picture clear.
– Peter McMeekin is Nidera Australia’s origination manager. (Nidera Australia is a member of the COFCO International Group).