Cropping report - February 2022 - Elders Rural Services
paddock-views-near-Jamestown-south-australia

Cropping report – February 2022

At a glance

  • Paddock preparation, crop planning and further applications of summer weed control keep growers busy ahead of the autumn break.
  • Storms across the Western Downs (QLD) cause damage to cotton and advanced sorghum crops ranging from 10-100 per cent (pc) yield losses.
  • Grain prices become volatile amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, while local supply chain factors are having a larger than normal impact for this time of year.

Local conditions

The Elders Weather rainfall outlook suggests multiple cold fronts over the next two months starting from 28 February to 4 March. These have the potential to produce widespread rain over southern and eastern Australia. In the West the strongest cold fronts are expected between 28 February to 4 March and 16 to 20 March.

From the field

Victoria and Riverina

“Summer herbicide programs are underway with some farmers completing a second pass with bipyridal herbicides such as paraquat and diquat to combat difficult weeds. Over the next month farmers will commence applications of gypsum, lime and manure.”

“Challenges at present include getting the best use out of glyphosate given its high cost, as well as managing the high cost of fuel and predicting the market impact from the developing situation in Ukraine.

“Confidence is at a mid-point in the region. Many are sitting on maxed out farm management deposits and good cash balances from several good seasons, but the uncertainty of supply and cost of inputs has tempered confidence levels early in 2022.” – Roy Daykin, Elders Agronomist, Wycheproof.

“Full soil moisture profile heading into sowing and favourable grain prices have kept growers optimistic about the new season.”

“Agronomy planning has been a key activity over the past month – looking at different varieties to suit cropping programs and addressing the concerns raised from the wet summer ‘green bridge’ including disease carry-over.

“Summer weed control has added a degree of cost and workload with many growers having already applied three spray applications. All the above factors contribute to the need for a robust cropping plan for the season ahead.” – Chris Toohey, Elders Agronomist, Albury.

South Australia

“What should be a quieter time of year has been reasonably busy with significant challenges. Many growers were still harvesting up until New Year’s Eve with some not finishing until mid-January. Most were trying to have a break, but between COVID-19 and bush fires, a lot probably didn’t get the break they were looking forward to.”

“Paddock preparation and planning will be the main cropping activities over the coming month. Those with irrigated Lucerne seed have been making sure irrigation schedules are met, Lucerne seed harvest will begin mid-March.

“To date the South East hasn’t had any significant summer rain. Rain would however, increase the likelihood of summer weeds and need for spraying, which at current glyphosate prices would pose a challenge. Rain would also diminish any quality left in dry feed.

“Overall confidence is fair, last year’s harvest was average to above average and commodity prices look to remain strong, however input costs and availability of fertiliser, seed and chemical are keeping a lid on expectations for the coming season.” – Jason McClure, Elders Agronomist, Naracoorte.

Western Australia

“Conditions have been dry which has been an issue for bushfires. Shackleton and Narrogin fires demonstrated the challenges posed by hot windy conditions this time of year.”

“Farmers are in preparation mode this month, getting machinery and paddocks ready for seeding. Supply logistics difficulties for fertiliser, chemical and seed caused issues this year, but overall growers are happy to have inputs on farm and ready to go.

“The focus will now shift towards the timing of the autumn break, as it stands farmers remain optimistic.” – Bill Moore, Elders Technical Services Manager, Western Australia.

Queensland

“Current conditions in Queensland have set the state up for a good winter crop outlook, with most of the cropping area receiving good rain from November through to January.”

“A large contingent of growers are leaning towards a bigger area of wheat and barley this season.  Despite high input costs, the decision is largely driven by price and the need for fallow stubble cover.  Growers are also putting an area to chickpeas to fill specific contract markets but the focus is all on cereals for now.

“Fall armyworm has been sporadic across the southern part of the state, largely due to the cooler summer conditions, providing growers the opportunity to address the risk early to prevent any significant losses.

“Storms across the Western Downs late on 11 February caused damage to cotton and some of the more advanced sorghum crops, ranging from 10-100 per cent (pc) yield losses. Some producers also experienced infrastructure damage in the freak event. This setback will impact at a time when prices and yield are at their highest compared to the past three years.” – Maree Crawford, Elders Technical Services Manager, Queensland and Northern Territory.

“In Northern Queensland maize crops have been once again devastated by fall armyworm. Growers are seeking alternatives for future cropping rotations as this is the third season they have experienced major losses.”

“Central Queensland (CQ) growers are busy with their sorghum and cotton crops with some experiencing good growing conditions and above average yields. Good rainfall across a wide area of CQ growing regions in November and December coincided with the main planting window which should see crops set up for high yields.” – Maree Crawford, Elders Technical Services Manager, Queensland and Northern Territory.

Buyers paying grower target prices

Nathan Cattle from Clear Grain Exchange shares his thoughts on the current grain market in Australia.

Off-shore tensions between Russia and the Ukraine has seen some volatility in global grain markets and this appears to have had an impact on the Australian market.

Australian grain prices have crept higher recently, as reported by traded values on Clear Grain Exchange (CGX) with APW1 in Port Adelaide reaching $400/t again, Kwinana trading $370/t, Melbourne $379/t and Kembla $378/t as examples.

The grades that accounted for most of the volume traded in the last month on CGX included SFW1 wheat in the eastern states and ASW1 in the west, reflecting the quality of the crop delivered. Trade volumes in South Australia have been much more even across wheat and barley grades.

All grades of all commodities in all port zones are finding demand with more than 600,000t of grain trading on CGX over the past month. Grades of wheat, barley, canola, oats, lupins and peas have traded across almost all the major port zones around Australia.

It appears many growers have taken advantage of the lift in values. Buyers have been able to pay prices many growers were asking for and this was reflected with volumes trading through CGX reaching a new daily record at just over 102,000t on Monday 14 February.
The level of buyer interest in Aussie grain remains very high and in many cases the prices traded are very different to those advertised on cash boards or on indicative bid platforms.

The price differentials between port zones, between grades, between commodities, and global values continue to be larger than normal. This is reflecting prices being impacted by very local supply and demand factors, and often published bids not reflective of traded values.

Grain demand can often be hard to predict, if you have your grain on offer at least all buyers can see it and try to buy it – that’s how you create demand for your grain.

graph-showing-number-of-buyers-purchasing-grain-on-cgx-each-week
Graph showing the number of buyers purchasing on the CGX platform each week.

Market indicators

table-showing-traded-grain-prices-by-port
Table showing traded grain prices from Clean Grain Exchange.

*Published bids refers to publicly available data from major grain buyers.
Sources: Elders weather and Clear Grain Exchange.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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