WINTER crop harvesting across NSW is close to finishing with wheat harvest now underway around Young and Harden, which is typically the last region in the state to finish.
2017 will be remembered for the tough season and the disappointing harvest.
Last week, ABARES lowered its forecast of the Australian wheat crop to 20.3 million tonnes, down from last year’s bin-buster of 35.1 million tonnes.
The NSW 4.8 million tonnes with an average yield of 1.45 tonnes a hectare, if realised, will be the state’s smallest winter wheat crop in a decade and the lowest average yield since 2009-10.
But many now think ABARES current estimate will prove optimistic.
At the end of the first week in December farmers had only delivered 1.6 million tonnes of grain into Graincorp NSW storages, according to the companies weekly Harvest Report.
Grain deliveries into the bulk handling system were expected to be sharply lower than the approximate 5.5 million tonnes of deliveries at the same point last year, however, the extent of the decline has taken some by surprise.
Recent wet weather across southern NSW slowed harvesting and subsequent grain deliveries, but even after this is factored in the deliveries are small for the projected production levels.
Graincorp deployed falling numbers machines and implemented additional quality segregations to protect the quality of the grain harvested before last week’s rain.
Farmers had feared the forecast heavy rains would downgrade wheat quality, and these fears have been realised.
Most of the post-rain wheat is coming off as Australian Hard (AH9) with some SFW and General Purpose.
Some flour millers are buying it as lower spec food quality and there appears to be a depth of feed demand at similar values.
The last of the state’s wheat harvest is expected to be finalised before Christmas.
Recent rain has been beneficial for sorghum crops in the Liverpool Plains and around Moree.
Crops are off to an excellent start but farmers will be looking for more rain in January to maintain the above average yield potential.
A few grain traders are saying the NSW wheat crop could come in more than halve a million tonnes below ABARES latest estimate.
Australian wheat exporters are struggling to uncover routine Asian export demand considering the abundance of global supplies.
Asian buyers are maximising Black Sea wheat imports and limiting the intake of Australian wheat the higher protein grades for blending.
The slow uptake of Australian wheat was highlighted in the October export figures which fell to just 862,000 tonnes which was the smallest in two years.
While October exports are typically low, the small imports into key markets like Indonesia underlined the impact of the record Russian exports is having on Australia demand.