Australia. Crops turn on a spring surprise as harvest continues

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HARVEST  has progressed across Australia’s cropping regions, with many growers surprised by the good quality of grain coming out of paddocks.

Victorian Farmers Federation grains president Ross Johns, based in Warracknabeal, said while recent rain had delayed harvest in some parts of the state, “rain is always good, whenever it falls.”

Despite the challenges of the season, some crops across Victoria were yielding better than expected.

“Crops have a wide variety of yields. Crops are yielding better than anticipated, which is positive. Farmers have probably been underestimating yield this season. Growers are feeling as though the season has been pretty tough,” Mr Johns said.

“Some of the barley is going into malt (quality), which is a surprise.

“If we keep our costs down, any farmers producing a bit of grain will do OK. There are some areas that have been really badly affected by dry conditions.

“It doesn’t matter where the prices are, it’s a tough position for some.”

Mr Johns said growers would turn their thoughts to next season after the New Year.

“Growers will be a little conservative if we don’t get much rain prior to planting,” Mr Johns said.

The latest Rabobank agribusiness outlook, released last week, reported rain across drought-affected regions of NSW and southern Queensland last month came too late to impact winter crop prospects.

“In the near term, rainfall will go some way toward reducing soil moisture deficits, assisting planting of the summer crop. Decade-low production will keep Australian grain and oilseed prices high,” the report said.

Rabobank senior grains and oilseeds analyst Cheryl Kalisch-Gordon said there were several factors at play working to pull down Australian wheat prices.

“Firstly, the bit of rain taking some feed grain out of the equation. The second, at harvest you always see a softening (in prices). Thirdly, wheat has been softening globally. While we are playing in a domestic pricing market you still see a drag from global pricing, and global wheat has moved down over the last month,” Dr Kalisch-Gordon said.

“And this month we’ve seen a bit of a strengthening of the Australian dollar.”

Western Australian bulk grain handler CBH Group’s harvest report last week showed harvest was well under way in most zones in that state, with total grain received passing two million tonnes.

weeklytimesnow.com.au