Stormy conditions over the past week offered valuable rain for southern Queensland farmers. Dry pockets that had missed earlier rain are gradually shrinking and more farmers have enough moisture to plant sorghum.
Wild storms lashed southern Queensland on Sunday causing isolated flash flooding and leaving a path of destruction. The worst of the storms were near the range with areas close to Toowoomba recording wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour. The storms dumped a patchy 20 to 30mm of rain across southern Queensland with isolated falls of more than 50mm.
The unsettled weather is slowing sorghum planting, but farmers are happy to wait. Dalby and Macalister recorded another 45mm in the past week. Last week’s rain has lifted Dalby’s October rainfall to 180mm.
Storms were patchier in the western Downs and Maranoa but there was some valuable rain. Meandarra received 35mm and Surat 26mm while Roma had 15mm. Areas around Goondiwindi fared better for rain last week. Talwood registered 60mm for the week and Southwood 30mm.
Farmers are making the most of the rain to get sorghum crops planted so they can take advantage of the high grain prices. Seed companies say they still have some sorghum seed available, but supplies are limited.
Traders say they expect more than 300,000 hectares of sorghum will be planted in the coming weeks across southern Queensland. Recent rain has also allowed some farmers in northern NSW to plant sorghum.
Sorghum prices strengthened last week after the previous week’s sharp declines. Sorghum bids into Brisbane were $12 higher to $380 after falling $32 in the previous weeks. Similar increases were seen into Newcastle.
Central Queensland also recorded handy rain last week that will start to build soil moisture for sorghum planting. Emerald and Springsure received around 20mm.
Unsettled weather is slowing the drought reduced winter grain harvest. Western Downs farmers have been harvesting barley for a couple of weeks and wheat is just starting.
The Queensland wheat harvest is widely expected to be the smallest harvest in at least a decade and possibly longer. Most crops were consumed by drought while others were cut for hay rather than chancing a finishing rain that was needed to ensure they would be harvested.
Farmers are in no hurry to sell barley off the header with the scarcity of grain supplies. New crop barley is gradually finding its way to southern Queensland feedlots with farmers holding out for $450 on farm.
Darling Downs grain markets were steady last week. Feed barley into the Downs was $5 higher at $440 a tonne while stockfeed wheat was unchanged at $445.
WA grain prices were close to unchanged. APW into Kwinana was $2 higher at $365/t and ASW was unchanged at $348.
Australia exporters are starting to uncover export demand for new crop wheat, which is likely to be shipped from WA. Australia sold 55,000 tonnes of feed wheat to the Philippines last week at prices that work back to the ASW prices.