The back end of this week saw some scattered showers, to follow on from the rain events of last week, but they were mostly to the south, with the best of the falls south of Gilgandra, into the Central West of NSW. North of Moree to the Downs was mostly dry, and remains in need of a good fall of rain to pick hopes up. West of Narrabri has also largely missed good falls. We estimate that this region requires 150mm+ of rain to see any confidence in planting a winter crop. The same would apply for the majority of the country south west, west, & north west of Narrabri, & 50km west of the Newell Highway. East of this line, condition are better, but the rain has been so patchy, even some of these areas require similar falls.

Sorghum harvest north of Narrabri has mostly finished, with the odd later block all that is left to harvest, whilst the Liverpool Plains crop in its varying stages, is anywhere from drying down to still a good 8-10 weeks away from harvest. The odd mixed farming enterprise has been scratching in some oats for stock feed, but this will need good follow-up rain also. Cotton growers are busy, with the majority of the crop getting its last water, and those who ended up short starting defoliation over the next 7-10 days. If we had to some up grower sentiment, we can only be honest & say that it is very glum. Many growers have not had a decent winter crop for 12 months, & a summer crop for two years. Those with stock remaining on hand & faced with the arduous task of continual feeding which is not only financially draining, but mentally as well. The only solution is rain, a lot of it, & very soon!

Over the course of the past month, futures have ended overall stronger than the end of January, but the domestic market is not really focused on these at the moment. New crop is still being driven by futures price movements, but basis is already beginning to strengthen, as some general concern for the Newcastle and Brisbane port zone begins to creep in from the trade.

The end of the month has seen a few parcels of wheat come to market, but with most growers, they are looking to ensure some form of new crop production, before committing to the sale of their remaining grain instore or on farm. We have seen a couple of parcels on the Liverpool Plains trade following last weeks rainfall events which seem to have ensured some reasonable sorghum production. The ex-farm market into Brisbane, and onto the Downs is holding the best numbers since harvest, but growers are remaining hesitant, even though they are well informed about the capping of prices as the trade continues to bring wheat from the south, they would prefer to lose a few dollars in the market if it means they are more of a chance of planting.

Barley has come back into favour with the recent increase in wheat prices. This has made barley an option again after last month pricing itself out of many rations. Barley is not easy to come by from northern growers, however, we have been trading barley into the north from southern origins.

The sorghum market in Northern NSW is still trying to work out what it can and can’t do with the SOR2/3/X/S/?? grades, with little or no interest being shown by anyone to take delivery with any degree of promptness. Some better Sorghum 2 is being priced in the market place, but majority of growers do not want to take the risk for a couple of dollars premium, and would prefer a multigrade option as quality has varied within the same paddock ie. one load might make SOR2, with the next SOR3 etc.  Reports of better sorghum on the Downs is definitely making off grades difficult to trade. Liverpool Plains sorghum is generally in reasonable condition, but some pockets of the crop are much better than the majority.

The chickpea market has been slow to say the least. Six weeks ago we saw a nice rally in the market on the back of concerns with production in Pakistan due to dry weather. This saw a $50 price rise in a week. Since then, Pakistan has decided that they may not be as short as they first thought, & now we are hearing stories of them washing out & walking away from those higher priced contracts. With that demand (false) now gone, there is little news in the market to provide support. India have been receiving good rains on their crop which is in the early stages of harvest. Bangladesh don’t seem to be there to buy either. It is frustrating, but a commercial reality in the current environment, to see certain buyer supporting the market by subsidising logistics. Most buyer posting bids are not standing by them when offered volume, reflecting the nervousness of taking on large positions. So what to do from here? Bight the bullet & meet the market, as we don’t see a lot of strength in the short term. Otherwise, you will need to continue to be patient & depending on whether we get a new crop planted in the ground this season, prices could well improve later in the year. Bear in mind that many growers are still holding stock from two harvests ago, & that too is weighing on our local prices. We are also hearing of quality claims based on old verses current crop sales. What we really need is for a major catastrophe to occur in the sub-continent. Currently we have demand around $410 to $415 on farm around Moree & Narrabri, add $5 for Goondiwindi. $450 delivered Downs, or $465 to $470 delivered Brisbane.

The faba bean market has not really been active in the north from an export trading point of view, with the number of tonnes limiting the ability to put something together. The farmer to farmer trade has continued to see faba’s around Narrabri trade in the $420-430 level ex-farm for stockfeed. The Lupin market has seen some demand, for both stockfeed, and into the packers. Tonnage is limited, and the seller is holding the upper hand, at the moment.  We think we may see some additionalfaba’s and lupins come to market over the next 4-6 weeks as growers make decisions on planting for the new season. It will come down to what rain we see between now & then.

The canola market has slowed moved up to the $540-550 Newcastle track, but there is not a large number of tonnes left in the system. Growers are cautious of the ex-farm market which has had interest in canola with a minimum oil content of 40%, with a number concerned that they may have a stack average of 40%, but individual loads which are below this contractual requirement.

The durum market looks to have lost all its steam, with prices for DR1 losing the best part of $30 from the January highs. We only know of limited tonnes of durum floating around, with most of this being DR3, which still works into the SFW market. The first vessel left the Newcastle Agri Terminal last week with a load of durum for Algeria. We believe there is another set for next month

The cotton market broke into the 90 USc/lb mark briefly, and the dollar did make its freshest lows, but the two did not coincide, and prices have finished similar to last month.Enquiry from growers looking to price cotton has remained mostly quiet. As growers continue to come to terms with yield, and determining just how much cotton they have left to sell. Early indications for next year is that production is going to be well back on the past 3 seasons, without some significant autumn/winter rainfall. We currently put the current crop at 3,700,000 bales nationally. Estimates on next year are 1,500,000 calculated on receiving little water in the storages. Obviously, there is still time, & cotton/summer crop growers (irrigators) are in a better situation than winter crop grain growers in the context of time for rain.