Medium term weather outlooks show no reprieve from the dry weather patterns that have settled over southern Queensland and much of inland NSW.
The latest climate outlook forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology suggests than most of northern half of Australia, most of NSW as well as south east Australia and southwest WA are likely to see drier than normal August to October. A positive Indian Ocean Dipole and the warmer ocean temperatures in the Pacific were dominating weather patterns, it said.
In addition to the natural climatic influences such as ENSO and the IOD, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures, the bureau said.
Weather variability is a constant challenge for Australian farmers who are accustomed to the scorching temperatures, regular droughts and the occasional floods. Improvements in technology and practices have helped farmers manage the irregularity of rainfall by conserving and storing soil moisture, as demonstrated by the improved yields in dry seasons.
However, the prolonged dry across large areas of northern Australia is making the current drought particularly challenging. Southern Queensland and northern NSW grain farmers have been battling dry weather patterns since the bumper crops of 2016/17. Comparisons are being drawn to the devastating conditions in the early 1980s.
Northern grain markets were pressured lower last week as the Central Queensland sorghum harvest pace picks up. Sorghum bids in the Central Highlands were down $8-10 for the week to $300 Gladstone. Darling Downs sorghum prices finished the week $12 lower at $332 delivered. Southern Queensland wheat and barley prices ended the week down $10-12 a tonne.
Global grain markets moved higher last week after the USDA made larger than expected cuts to the global wheat crop. Traders were expecting the USDA to cut global wheat output following a hot dry finish to the European and Black Sea crops, but the size of the reductions came as a surprise and pushed global prices higher.
USDA lowered world wheat production by 9.3 million tonnes to 771.5mt, which included reductions in Russia, Ukraine, the EU, Canada and Australia. The biggest surprise was the 3.8mt reduction in the USDA's forecast for Russia's 2019/20 wheat crop to 74.2mt. USDA cut its forecast for Australia's wheat crop by 1.5mt to 21.0mt.