Farmers and grain buyers are wondering when the current sweltering autumn heatwave will end, with the latest forecasts pointing to another week of scorching temperatures.
The mercury soared back above 30 degrees on Sunday across the Southern Queensland grain belt, 3-5deg above normal, after a brief reprieve late last week.
The autumn scorcher is almost certain to break new records.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s latest monthly climate outlook indicates the current pattern could continue into May before cooler temperatures arrive in June. The unseasonably warm temperatures, which have toppled temperature records in Adelaide, Sydney and many regional towns in south eastern Australia, appears to have been driven by high ocean temperatures and weaker prevailing winds.
The rainfall outlook for May is neutral, with no strong shift in the underlying climatic patterns that appear to be driving the current hot and dry pattern dominating weather patterns through much of Australia. It’s not until June that the Bureau’s seasonal outlook weather model shows an easing from the hotter than normal temperatures and a shift to improved rainfall across Queensland.
Grain markets also act as a good barometer of the prevailing weather conditions and the sentiment for a change. And the northern grain prices continue to press higher.
Sorghum values jumped by $5 last week to $347 delivered Brisbane. The Brisbane sorghum values are approaching the highs seen in 2014 when Chinese first emerged as a buyers of Queensland sorghum for alcohol.
Wheat and feed barley bids also firmed last week. Stockfeed wheat into Darling Downs markets gained $6 to $344 while F1 feed barley was $8 higher at $343.
Grain prices through south eastern Australia also moved solidly higher last week.
Traders are saying that widespread rain across eastern Australia is needed to ease northern grain markets, and more generally across eastern Australia.
It was a topsy-turvy week for the United States wheat futures.
US wheat futures rallied sharply early in the week after weekend temperatures plummeted to well below freezing which is expected to result in some winter kill losses in parts of the HRW wheat crop. A further deterioration in the wheat crop conditions, which are the lowest in more than two decades was also supportive.
The market gave back these gains in the later part of the week as forecasters added rain for the driest parts of the HRW wheat crop.
In its monthly world supply and demand assessment, the USDA raised world wheat ending stocks by a further 2 million tonnes to 271mt. In a familiar pattern, the USDA again raised its forecast for Russian wheat exports by 1mt to 38.5mt. Russia’s 2017/18 wheat exports are now expected to exceed last year’s record exports by more than 10mt.
Australia’s 2017/18 wheat exports were left unchanged at 16mt, according to the USDA report.
The USDA will release its first detailed forecasts for the 2018/19 world wheat crop, which is expected to show the first annual decline in global production in six seasons.