Queensland farmers have recorded some of the best rainfall in months over the past week as soaking rains moved across Central and Southern Queensland.
After a hot, dry summer, Central Queensland enjoyed the best of last week’s rain with general falls ranging from 50mm to upwards of 150mm in some parts. Areas around Emerald recorded more than 150mm following torrential falls on Sunday, which dumped around 100mm of rain.
Rolleston and Springsure saw 75mm to 100mm for the week, following the rain from the previous week. Rainfall totals were patchier in the northern areas, although most areas still managed 50mm to 75mm for the week, with some localised amounts of more than 100mm.
Rainfall totals were more variable across Southern Queensland. Areas around Dalby, McAlister, Jandowae, Condamine and Miles enjoyed the best of the rain with a general 80mm to 100mm for the week.
Totals were more variable west of Miles. Roma recorded 65mm for the week while Surat and St George had 30mm to 35mm. Better falls of 50mm to 80mm were recorded in areas west and north of Goondiwindi, with Mungindi receiving 90mm.
Unfortunately, the rains didn’t extend into the eastern Downs where rainfall totals were disappointing. Pittsworth, Cambooya and Felton all received less than 30mm for the week.
However, last week’s rain came too late for many sorghum crops, where the hot, dry summer had already taken its toll.
Sorghum prices continued to strengthen despite last week’s widespread rain.
Brisbane sorghum bids ended the week $7 higher at $310 while the Downs gained $6 to $302 delivered. Newcastle was $8 higher at $310 delivered.
Local sorghum values have rallied by $50 over the past three months as the prospects for the local crop dwindles. Just a week ago, ABARES slashed its forecast for Australia’s sorghum harvest by a quarter or more than half a million tonnes. ABARES cut its forecast for the Queensland sorghum crop to less than one million tonnes, citing a significant reduction in Central Queensland plantings with dry summer.
The rally in sorghum values has been trigged by trade short covering, with exports saying that its uncompetitive with United States sorghum into China at current prices.
Cattle on feed numbers eased in the October to December quarter as higher feed grain prices pressure the profitability of feedlots. The latest ALFA survey data showed that Queensland feedlot numbers fell by 78,500 head to around 520,000 head.
Queensland feedlot numbers have now fallen by 17 per cent since the record highs made in the June 2017 survey, as the impact of the tight northern gain supplies erodes feeding margins. The survey data shows that New South Wales feedlot numbers have only fallen by 6 per cent from mid-2017, as operators boost numbers in southern feedlots to minimise the influence of the high northern grain prices.
Wheat and barley values in the north were close to unchanged.
Exporters are still experiencing intense competition from Black Sea wheat into key South East Asian markets such as Indonesia. Last week an Indonesian flour mill reported the purchase of Russian wheat at values significantly cheaper than Australian wheat.