Smallest national wheat crop in a decade

Smallest national wheat crop in a decade

Agribusiness
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The national wheat harvest is forecast to be the smallest in a decade.

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Drought has slashed the national wheat harvest to the smallest in a decade according to the latest forecasts.

National Australia Bank is the latest in a slew of organisations to cut its forecast for Australia's wheat crop. NAB cut its forecast for Australia's 2019 wheat harvest to 15.5 million tonnes down from 17.0mt last month, citing heat, the dry spring and frost.

As harvest cranks up in WA and SA, Rabobank lowered its forecast for Australia's 2019 winter crop to 27.7mt, down 6mt or 17 p er cent from last month. It forecast Australia's wheat crop to fall to 15.8mt, well below last year's drought reduced crop of 17.3mt.

It's the dramatic turnaround in WA's crop fortunes since last year which brought on the most recent write-downs, whereas Queensland and NSW grain farmers have been grappling with drought for the past three seasons.

Favourable growing conditions saw WA harvest a bumper wheat crop of 10.2mt in 2018. However, private forecasters are saying it will be down by 3 to 4mt this year after abnormally high temperatures, drought and frosts.

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George

Table 1: Queensland grain prices. Source: Lloyd George

Queensland's winter grain harvest is entering its final stages, while activity is picking up in other states. Viterra in SA and CBH in WA are taking small volumes of barley and canola and activity will accelerate this week.

Victoria is still some weeks off starting harvest, but the annual Grain Industry Association crop tour reported excellent yield potential for the Southern Mallee and Wimmera.

Barley prices continued to soften last week. Spot bids for feed barley into the Darling Downs markets tumbled $25 to $375 a tonne. The onset of farmer selling prompted similar sizeable declines in WA, SA and Victorian markets.

Darling Downs wheat prices finished the week $10 lower from last week to $415/t.

Sorghum bids remain firm at $380/t for a November delivery as farmers wait for rain to plant the 2019/20 crop.

Scattered weekend storms resulted in 10mm to 20mm in the eastern Darling Downs, but limited rain was recorded in the central and the western Downs. Oakey and Stanthorpe received around 20mm on Sunday, but Dalby only received 3mm.


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