Rainfall raises quality questions
By Nicholas Robertson
17th November, 2021
Harvest has commenced in most parts of New South Wales as we approach the end of November and while there was some good progress made early on, the last fourteen days have not been kind. With harvests of recent years well and truly finished by the Christmas period, 2021 does feel like the year where social plans for end of year festivities might have to be adjusted.
Headers have been rolling in Southern Queensland since the start of October and for most farmers they have been able to get the majority of their crop in the bin before the current pattern of rain set in. Today many are indicating Southern Queensland harvest at 80-90% done on cereals which is a huge effort from those north of the border. Northern New South Wales typically begins a couple of weeks later and despite every effort unfortunately, they were not able to get as much grain off as they would have liked. Much of what has been harvested thus far in Northern New South Wales is canola and barley with wheat usually the last cab off the rank. Currently canola harvested could be anywhere between 70-80% complete while wheat at around 25% is only a quarter way through. The early harvested wheat has shown to be very good quality but with the amount of rain seen over the past fourteen days, the profile of the remaining crop in the paddock is the topic of many conversations at the moment.
The southern half of New South Wales is only just getting started on harvest, with progress at approximately 5% for canola and less than 1% for wheat. Quality issues may start showing up in canola as some windrowed crop has now been on the deck for 2-3 weeks. A large percentage of the canola harvested is showing excellent yield on both tonnage and oil profile. Test weight and shattering of canola heads will be the main issue going forward because of ongoing rain. Wheat quality in the south is still undefined and with most of the crop still green and minimal amount of harvest activity, we will have to wait a few weeks to see what quality hits the bins.
On the marketing front, quality concerns and a slow harvest pace have reflected in cash board prices with values firming overall and spreads widening for milling quality versus lower grade feed grain. The biggest changes we have seen is the spreads on wheat grades with the highest quality and lowest quality wheat difference in price over $100/mt. If we compare this to last year, 20/21 spreads between low and high quality were around $30 depending on day-to-day market. Today it appears more rain may be on the forecast so there may be more to play out on grade spreads moving forward.
While harvest progress has been slowing due to continual rain events, the grain markets have been anything but. Weather premiums and discounts have been showing up in places so when marketing your grain be sure to look for opportunities that will present out the curve.
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