Poor season causes Qld grain exports to stall

Queensland grain exports stall


Cropping
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Queensland exported 55,000 tonnes of wheat in the October to December quarter, the smallest for this time since 2007.

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Grain exports from Queensland have almost stopped as the impact of the poor winter crop and a deteriorating summer crop alter grain flows.

A disappointing wheat harvest, strong domestic disappearance coupled with the deteriorating summer crop outlook have all served to put the brakes on grain exports while drawing grain supplies from as far away as South Australia.

Queensland has exported 55,000 tonnes of wheat in the October to December quarter, the smallest for this time since 2007. Recently released monthly export data showed that only 11,000 tonnes of wheat was exported from Queensland in December, following the 12,000 tonnes shipped in November.

Queensland exported close to a million tonnes of wheat in the 2016/17 marketing year, but the tables have turned this year. Two bulk shipments carrying barley and wheat from South Australia have already been discharged into the port of Brisbane in the past two months, with more expected.

Expectations of a smaller Queensland sorghum harvest are also being felt in grain markets. Early February rain offered some relief to Queensland sorghum farmers, but the rain has come too late for many. Early sorghum is starting to come off in southern Queensland where yields and quality is expected to be variable.

Scattered storms through Central Queensland will allow more sorghum to be planted. However, not all farmers received enough rain to plant on, which is expected to leave significant intended areas unplanted as the seeding window closes.

Comparatively, Queensland chickpea exports have held up reasonably well. There have been 357,000 tonnes of chickpeas shipped from Queensland in the October to December quarter, with much of this coming from Central Queensland where farmers enjoyed better growing conditions.

However, export prospects for chickpeas took another blow late last week with news that India has lifted its import duty on chickpeas to 40 per cent, up from the 30pc duty announced in late December.

Industry representatives and politicians have been working feverously with the Indian government following the announcement of import duties. The massive import tax comes as a cruel blow for Queensland grain farmers, who account for the majority of Australia’s $1 billion plus worth of chickpea exports.

Chickpea prices have recovered after initial sharp declines following the announcement of the Indian import duty in late December. Farmers had already sold much of the 2017/18 harvest before the announcement.

Darling Downs grain markets pushed higher last week as sorghum crop ideas continue to decline. Sorghum bids were $13 higher at $293 delivered into the Darling Downs while Brisbane values were $14 higher at $304. Trader bids into Newcastle were also sharply higher.

Alternative feed grain values were supported by the big weekly increase in sorghum. Stock feed wheat and feed barley bids into the Downs were $5 higher at $330 to $335 delivered, but sellers remain scarce.

World grain prices continued to firm last week as drought conditions through the US hard red winter wheat areas intensify. US wheat futures ended the week higher for a fourth consecutive week. This was despite a broadly bearish monthly USDA report where US wheat exports were lowered by 700,000 tonnes at the expense of larger Russian wheat exports.

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