It’s been a long time coming, but the rain has finally returned to the parched grain producing areas of Queensland.
Central Queensland farmers recorded their heaviest rain since Cyclone Debbie in March as a deep trough drew moisture across the continent. There were some heavy downpours, with Emerald recording 60mm in little over an hour early Monday morning. The rains were patchy but most parts of Central Queensland have seen 20mm to 45mm and it’s still raining.
Rain is pushing though the Maranoa and western Darling Downs. St George registered 40mm on Monday morning, its heaviest fall in more than a year. Roma and Surat have recorded around 20mm and Miles 14mm.
Unfortunately, the heavy rainfall appears to be breaking down before reaching the heart of the Darling Downs. Dalby had recorded less than 5mm of rain on Monday morning with more showers forecast in the following 48 hours.
The rain comes too late to save winter crops which have struggled through on of the driest winters in many years. Many farmers in the western Downs received less than 20mm for the winter which hasn’t been enough for wheat and barley crops. Parts of the inner Downs have fared a little better, benefiting from patchy storms in early winter.
Farmers have already turned their attention to summer crops in the hope of cashing in on the feed grain shortage created by the dry winter. Soaking rains are needed to provide enough moisture for farmers to plant summer crops. Soils are bone-dry after the dry winter with agronomists saying it will take upwards of 75mm to wet the powdery soils sufficiently.
Southern Queensland grain prices tumbled last week as forecast models predicted upwards of 50mm across the Darling Downs. New crop sorghum bids tumbled by $18 to $285 delivered Downs. Smaller declines were seen in winter grains where supplies will not benefit from the rain. Stockfeed wheat lost $10 to $335 Downs markets while feed barley was steady at $330 a tonne.
Grain prices through NSW and Victorian remained well supported last week, despite the forecast rain for southern Queensland.
Limited September rain and heavy frosts have seen private forecasters continue to cut estimates for grain production estimates. Last week the International Grains Council (IGC) lowered its forecast for Australia’s 2017/18 wheat crop to 21.5 million tonnes. Others are saying the drought will see Australia’s wheat crop slip below 20mt for the first time in a decade.
IGC said world wheat stocks would climb to a record 247mt into the 2017/18 season, up 5 million on last year. However, much of the stock increase is in non-exporting countries such as China. Major exporter wheat stocks are projected to decline for the first time in six years, they said.
United States wheat futures lost ground last week after the USDA revealed the high protein spring wheat crop was larger than expected.
However, Black Sea wheat prices continued to push higher last week as farmers turn more reluctant sellers now that harvest is complete.