Soaking weekend rain through the Darling Downs and Central Queensland has helped ease concerns for the sorghum harvest.
The Darling Downs recorded its best general rain in more than a month with 30 – 40mm through most areas.
Even heavier falls were recorded in the western Downs and Maranoa. Miles recorded its best rain in 18 months, registering more than 100mm from Friday to Sunday. Roma, Surat, St George and areas north west of Goondiwindi received 40 – 60mm which starts to restore soil moisture levels ahead of winter crop plantings in the coming months.
The rain comes as a relief to Darling Downs sorghum farmers but came too late to avoid sharp declines in yield potential after the hot, dry January. Growers are saying that yield potential may have fallen by a quarter to a third in the past few weeks as the lack of rain finally took its toll on crops. Farmers will start harvesting sorghum towards the middle of February.
Widespread rain also fell across Central Queensland, which will trigger a general start to sorghum planting across the region. Some farmers had already planted sorghum on patchy January rainfall but most growers were looking for moisture before starting.
Central Queensland rainfall totals ranged from 40mm to upwards of 100mm in parts. The best falls were recorded in the southern areas with Springsure registering 85mm. Falls were generally lighter in the northern areas. Farmers north of Emerald, which largely missed out on the January storms, received 40 – 60mm from the weekend rains, which may not be enough to seed all the intended sorghum area.
Many of the northern NSW sorghum production areas missed out on the rain as totals tapered away south of the border. Areas around Moree received 35mm but falls of less than 20mm were common place in the key sorghum areas.
Grain prices tumbled over the weekend on the better than expected rains. Stockfeed wheat bids delivered into the Darling Downs were $10 lower at $317 while F1 feed barley was down $5 to $318.
New crop sorghum values fell by $6 to $280 delivered Darling Downs. Similar declines were seen into the Brisbane market.
Despite the weekend rain, northern grain supplies are expected to remain relatively tight ahead of the 2018 winter crop harvest.
United States wheat futures moved higher last week as drought conditions continue to intensify in key wheat production states. Monthly crop condition ratings released at the end of January confirmed a sharp deterioration in the Kansas Hard Red Winter wheat crop, the biggest production state in the United States. Other Hard Red Winter wheat states also showed marked declines in crop conditions over the last month.
Analysts are saying the US winter wheat crops will still recover with rain ahead of the onset of the northern hemisphere spring.
Chickpea values into the Darling Downs and Brisbane pressed higher last week. Exporter bids for chickpeas into Brisbane jumped by $30 to $690 a tonne. This is the highest level since Indian imposed a 30 per cent import duty on Australian chickpeas and lentils at the end of 2017.