Sorghum soars during wait for planting rains

Sorghum soars as farmers wait for planting rains

Agribusiness
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Farmers are concerned about the absence of spring rains needed to trigger sorghum planting.

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Drought has already taken a heavy toll on the southern Queensland winter crop but its now threatening the 2020 summer crop harvest.

Farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about the absence of spring rains needed to trigger sorghum planting.

Upwards of 80 to 100 millimetres of rain is needed to provide enough moisture to plant sorghum in the Darling Downs but the ideal window for early plantings is almost over.

Most Darling Downs farmers will be happy to plant sorghum up until the end of December but will start to look ahead to winter crop options for beyond then.

Extended weather forecasts are troubling. The Bureau of Meteorology recently said rainfall for the remainder of 2019 was likely to be below average across much of Australia, with high chances of a drier October and November in particular.

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George.

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George.

Southern Queensland sorghum prices have soared by $60 a tonne in the past eight weeks to around $400 delivered into the Darling Downs as the chances of early sorghum deliveries dwindle.

Isolated storms disrupted early wheat and barley harvesting in the western Darling Downs and northern NSW, for the limited crop that will be cut for grain.

Cutting crops for hay has been the preferred option for most farmers, where there is enough vegetative matter to make it viable.

Wheat and barley prices remain firm with nearby supplies still felling tight. Wheat and barley for delivery in the next week is fetching $430/t however demand is limited to hand-to-mouth.

Buyers are still hopeful of cheaper prices when harvest kicks off in WA and southern NSW.

Hot, dry spring weather is expected to result in further write-downs to Australia's wheat and barley harvest. WA's crop is in retreat, with most areas having seen limited rain in the past 60 days.

Indonesian flour millers said they were missing Australia's good quality wheat at recent conference in by the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia and it would be a headache using inferior Black Sea wheat but stopped short of saying they would pay a premium for the Australian quality.

The said Australia's share of Indonesia's wheat imports has fallen from 64 per cent in 2015 to 13pc in the first half of 2019.

Argentina and Canada accounted for more than half of Indonesia's wheat imports in the first six months of 2019, they said.

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