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Frequent Contributor

Aussie crop forecast under pressure

THERE are some signs current grain production forecasts across Australia will come under pressure.  
 
A widespread rain event across Queensland and northern NSW has largely been interpreted by the market as slightly disappointing across the grain belt, while Victoria and South Australia continue to be locked in a pattern of heavy frosts and little rain.  
 
The rain through Queensland and northern NSW delivered widespread tallies of 25 millimetres, but only isolated falls of above 50mm, which was what was predicted across much of the area.  
 
In Western Australia, analysts are suggesting the northern areas around Geraldton are struggling somewhat, although there are many areas that still look good.  
 
After a dream start, it is now back to reality for Mallee regions in Victoria and SA.  
 
The recent string of frosts has touched up pulse crops, burning off flowers. There is a small amount of cereal damage but more concerning is the ongoing dry since the start of July.  
 
Mildura-based agronomist Michael Moodie said there was a decent band of rain across the far north-west of Victoria as part of last week's system from the north, but said it did not extend far down into the state.  
 
"There was rain of around 10-15mm through much of the Millewa, but it fell away very quickly to just a millimetre or so by the central Mallee."  
 
He said legume crops in the area had been smashed by the frost, having generally been sown early and developed ahead of schedule due to the warm and wet autumn.  
 
However, he said many growers regarded that as part of the risk with pulse crops in the region.  
 
In the cereals, Mr Moodie said there was a reasonably substantial amount of stem frost through earlier crops, with some up to near head emergence, but said growers would wait three weeks to assess the full amount of damage.  
 
NSW Farmers grains committee chairman Dan Cooper said there were falls of between 13-18mm through his area near West Wyalong, grading down to 10-15mm to his west, while some areas further north fared better.  
 
"It has bought us some time, but we'll need rain before the end of the month, we've got canola and faba beans in full flower and they are starting to use more moisture."  
 
Mr Cooper said there was no real sign of moisture stress in his area, which was also blessed with a dream start, but added it was only a week away.  
 
In terms of frost damage, he said he had unconfirmed reports there was wide ranging damage to cereal crops through the western Riverina in areas such as Hillston, Griffith and into Coolamon.  
 
In the north of NSW, Liverpool Plains grower Xavier Martin received 28mm, while there were falls of up to 40mm in his area.  
 
"There's a big difference between getting 25mm and 50mm, those that got the lighter falls might not get the moisture to join up."  
 
Mr Martin said the rain could best be described as a "breather, not a breaker".  
 
"It buys us about three weeks," he said.  
 
Crops on the Liverpool Plains are late enough, he said, that they are not chewing through the moisture as rapidly as to the west around Moree, but he said a good spring was critical.  
 
"We'd need pretty much everything to go right from here on in to get an above average year.  
 
"It's set up for a below average year here, and we've had the odd person put livestock on crops, but overall we're probably a bit better off than some of the earlier areas nearby."  
 
Grain prices rallied on the back of last week's front, which was forecast to deliver 50-100mm to many parts of the Queensland and NSW cropping belt, but instead dumped the heaviest rain on NSW's South Coast.  
 
Current official forecasts are for an Australian wheat crop of around 26 million tonnes, but while there are still large parts of WA, SA and Victoria in good condition, the dry August in southern regions, combined with the ongoing concerns in the north mean some analysts are considering revising the figure down in their next updates.

IP

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12 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

Thank you for the report.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

time i re emerged guys some more negative news from australia but australia really is a drop in the ocean isnt it we export 20 million tonne a pittance on world stage is it not?

 

South Australian farmers have held an emergency meeting in the state's Mid North to deal with the fallout from unseasonal frost, a problem most have never had to face before.

Many are used to freezing nights, but a recent cold snap is causing a lot of concern for growers who say frost is not normally an issue until spring.

While the state's paddocks are looking lush, wheat and pulse crops have already suffered significant crop damage, with fears some farmers could lose up to 90 per cent.

Between 50 and 100 farmers have gathered in Clare to discuss ways of tackling the problem.



Many face the prospect of simply counting their losses, and are unlikely to be able to use their damaged crops even for hay or feed.

Agronomist Mick Faulkner says the frosts have been unusually intense.

"They're so widespread, right from the other side of Ceduna through parts of Eyre Peninsula, the mid and upper north, parts of Yorke Peninsula and parts of the Mallee environments," he said.

"On top of that, in some areas we've had 21 frosts in 27 days in August."

Tom Hawker mainly grows beans on his property just outside Clare, and is one of many who has been affected.

He says he is still hopeful of salvaging some of the crop.

"It's a bit of a wait and see for us. The beans have started to re-shoot in different areas," he said.

"If it's an extreme situation we can always put the livestock on it."

Study into frost-proofing crops may yield results

The University of Adelaide recently started a new research program funded by the Grain Research Development Corporation looking into frost-proofing the nation's crops.



Dr Tim March says it may be too late for this year's crop but a long-term answer might lie in fields far from home.

"Things that were sown earlier this year tend to have more damage," he said.

"Once plants get in to their reproductive stage and start producing grain, that's when they become more susceptible to frost.

"One of the approaches we're trying to improve the varieties and to do that we need to find better sources of frost tolerance. So we're searching around wheat varieties from around the world."

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

Thanks for the report HW, but Chicago doesn't care. Seems to me we had a small crop right here at home and look what our price has done.
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Senior Advisor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

Production of a reliable exporter is a bigger deal than most understand. The amount of exportable wheat under normal circumstances is a fraction of total wheat production. And not all wheat CAN be exported. Therefore fluctuation of production in exporting countries is much more important than most realize. Problems in one exporting country is not a concern. In several? Depends on which ones. We've had ample evidence that when several exporting rregions have problem then markets can get caught off guard, even if individuals who watch the trends  can see it coming.

 

This year the main problem is quality.

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Advisor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

When do you normally start and end the season? Thanks
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Frequent Contributor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

Basically, Planting April/May, Harvest Nov/Dec

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

foorecast rain overnight has not materialized unfortunately

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Advisor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

So then your screwed basically?
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Senior Contributor

Re: Aussie crop forecast under pressure

Hard wheat,
Do you happen to know a gentleman named Ashley Wiese? He farms half of Australia somewhere around Perth...near a place I think is called Narostil, but I probably have that towns name wrong. He exports wheat to Indonesia and is also experimenting with quinoa. Very nice man. Met him a couple years back at a conference in Pullman, Wa.
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