Record breaking rains have fallen in Townsville in the past week but the monsoonal weather hasn’t offered any relief for Queensland grain farmers who continue to battle drought.
Monsoonal rains have inundated coastal northern Queensland in the past week with falls of 500mm to more than metre of rain stretching from Cairns to Proserpine. Some areas near Townsville have seen more than 2m of rain in the past 10 days resulting in the worst flooding ever seen.
But most of inland Queensland has remained dry while the north and central coast struggles with the record-breaking falls. Although the Gulf Country and parts of the Channel Country recorded welcome heavy falls, the rain has missed most of the state’s grain production regions.
The Central Highlands has virtually seen no rain in the past week despite the coastal areas of Proserpine and Airlie Beach to the north recording more than 400mm. The Darling Downs and Maranoa also missed out.
Darling Downs farmers are desperate for a soaking rain to stabilise sorghum crops following a blisteringly hot and dry month. Little to no rain fell in January compared to the longer-term average of 80mm while temperatures across the Downs were 2 to 4 degrees hotter than normal.
Longer term weather outlooks by the Bureau of Meteorology point to drier than normal weather across Western Australia while the Queensland and the east coast are expected to see near average rainfall during February and March.
The Bureau said Pacific Ocean conditions are currently neutral but there is still an elevated risk of an El Nino developing during the autumn months. Hotter than average temperatures are forecast to persist in the coming months, the bureau said.
WA’s CBH is expecting the east coast to be among its largest shipping destinations in the 2018/19 marketing year after last year’s drought. CBH reported that about 650,000 tonnes of WA grain had been shipped to Brisbane and NSW ports since the start of October and more than 1.1 million tonnes from when the program first kicked off in mid-2018. CBH said the shipments were expected to continue through 2019 and envisage that total shipments of wheat and barley may exceed 2mt before its finished.
Weakness in WA wheat and barley bids in the past week was mirrored in the softer tone in southern Queensland prices. WA wheat prices ended last week $6 to $9 lower while F1 feed barley fell $5 a tonne.
Sorghum into the Darling Downs finished $3 lower at $357 delivered with Brisbane down $5 at $363.
F1 feed barley ended the week $5 lower at $395 delivered into the Downs. This is sharply below the season highs of $440 delivered into the Darling Downs set in September and October. Stockfeed wheat was $10 lower at $430 delivered into the Darling Downs.
Negative overtones and uncertainty over Chinese import demand continues to weigh on Australian barley values. WA’s barley crop was record large at 5mt, leaving traders unsure of where it will go without the return of Chinese buyers.