Weather continues to have an impact on cropping conditions over much of NSW & Victoria, with concerns pushing up into southern QLD. Much of the cropping belt in these areas are stressed & damaged from receiving too much rain. Cereal crops are still holding up well. The biggest impact has been on pulse crops with many growers experiencing variances from total losses to partial losses. We don’t know of any northern NSW growers that would say they have not experienced some form of damage. We estimate 50% of Narrabri west to Walgett to be damaged. North of Moree & southern QLD are not suffering as much, but concerns are growing with the current forecasts. Available fungicide to manage disease is scarce for many, & there are not enough hours in the day for the aerial spray planes. Whilst it is too early to write the pulse crops off, the risks rise by the day & we have recommended that growers consider their individual circumstances & manage any exposure they might have to physical sales. If things continue to deteriorate, a bubble will form, & the closer we get to harvest, the risk increases that sellers will need to exit through the same door at the same time, driving prices considerably higher, resulting in greater costs for washouts! Its important that grower understand that the current chickpea market in Australia is being driven by washouts, not destination demand. There is so much uncertainty, we recommend growers with damage sit back & sell what they have, when they have it at harvest rather than be exposed to quantity, quality & delivery period risks. Having said that, each individuals circumstances should be taken into account, & this is not a one size fits all recommendation. Chickpea stocks are low in the sub continent, so all eyes are on Australian production. Whilst production here is reducing by the day, the key figure will be how much Australia produces verses what we can ship in the premium window of October/November. If our production (which it should) reduces to one million tonnes or below, demand will be firm. Above 1mmt, demand wanes & the premium shipping window remain the priority.
As for wheat & barley, the question is why forward sell for a low price today & take on production & quality risk – why not wait until you know what you have & sell at a low price then? Unfortunately, this is the reality in terms of prices for the foreseeable future, so if the price won’t change much, why stick your neck out?. Where we might see opportunity is for quality & protein if we get a wet finish to the cereal growing season. If growers don’t sell, logistics shorts could also emerge. Again, there are so much uncertainty. We would also caution growers looking to the bulk handing system for storing faba beans, as the cost in getting them out will impact on the already low price.
Currently buyers are paying premiums to growers that can out load grain during this period of wet weather. This is another example of the benefits of having sound on farm infrastructure in roads/access & storage. With Europe & Canada experiencing quality issues with their durum crops, we are expecting that local durum prices could be at a strong premium this harvest. Naturally we are experiencing local challenges ourselves & there are no guarantees we will have quality durum either. For these reasons, we recommend holding off making sales for new crop durum, & holding any old crop until the quality profile is determined. Like durum, we expect quality bread wheat to have a greater than average spread to APW1 this year.
xfarm Narrabri pricing:
F1 barley ~$175/mt
Sorghum 1 $175/mt
SFW1 wheat $180/mt
Chickpeas $930/mt – this is the bid, offers are much higher
There is no way of sugar coating the wheat & feed grain complexes over recent months, with the last week no exception. AgVantage likes to try & focus on the positives, so we are optimistic that yields this year will help to compensate growers for low prices. Whilst there is a glut of lower grade quality wheat in the world market, there are concerns for the quantity of higher protein wheat. We believe growers that can produce high protein wheat this year will benefit from higher than traditional grade spreads between APW & APH2 or better. Feed barley however, is going to struggle as feedlots battle with cattle prices, resulting in lower stocking rates & therefore demand for feed. With recent rains, its logical to expect excellent soil moisture profiles for summer crop, so it looks like the status quo remains for the foreseeable future with sorghum hitting the market next February/March. We need the demand side to come to the rescue, so lower prices will assist, & we need to watch China closely, as they have the ability to change the supply & demand equation significantly. Faba beans are also likely to be a challenge this harvest due to global & domestic supply, & lack of demand from our major exporting destination – Egypt. Australian beans are competing heavily from European supplies & non traditional northern European suppliers. Egypt bought high priced beans from Australia last year, resulting in a slow sales pace in Egypt. Egyptian buyers also defaulted &/or stalled payments to Australian suppliers resulting in Australian buyers not being so keen to supply Egypt this year. Some buyers are telling us that they won’t trade faba beans this year. Cheaper northern hemisphere supplies are now making those high priced Australian stock even harder to move in Egypt. The Egyptian financial system is still in crisis, resulting in difficulty for buyers to gain access to U.S. dollars to buy beans. The other issue facing faba bean difficulties this season will be delivery at harvest, with local packer reluctant to receive faba beans due to their large chickpea programs. Whilst we hope that demand will increase as we get closer to our harvest, growers should be thinking about marketing strategies for this year. Growers thinking about storing faba beans in third party bulk storages should consider the fact that they will be priced on the basis of having to outturn them from that facility to then to be taken to a packer or domestic market. They should also consider the storage & handling terms & conditions of the bulk handler, & take all costs into account & whether the storage & handler guarantee outturn quality. The length of time you are allowed to store in a facility is also important to know, as you don’t want to be told you need to remove them so the bulk handler can receive another product like cotton seed. Delivering direct to a packer at harvest, or storing on farm will be your best option this year. We will have ex-farm domestic homes this year. Whilst we have seen chickpea prices decline recently, we remain optimistic on prices coming into harvest. The sub continent still needs to plant their crop November/December & have a good growing season for a harvest February 2017 onwards. They still need to buy chickpeas prior to having their own new crop supplies. They have only stopped buying as they anticipate a big Australian crop. Therefore, the Australian crop needs to come to fruition, with a lot of water to go under the bridge – pardon the pun. Quality, yields, & timing of our supply are still up in the air. Issues can still occur in both Australia & the sub continent. We recommend growers keep their powder dry on selling new crop chickpeas at the moment as the sub continent needs to buy, & our supply is not certain. New crop durum is back to $300 NTP Newcastle on the back of a lack of demand for this time of year for Australian durum, & supplies out of Canada. We expect Australian durum price liquidity to pick up late September/October as customers make firmer inquiries & millers can make semolina sales out of Australia.