A peek into the sorghum world
By James Massina
23rd February, 2022
The last couple of weeks have seen favourable weather conditions that have enabled growers to make solid progress into their sorghum harvest. Yield reports generally through northern New South Wales and Queensland are excellent with numbers ranging anywhere from five to eight tonnes a hectare and in some cases even higher. Pleasingly the quality harvested to date has also been excellent with very little off-grade sorghum reported as harvested. Temperatures through New South Wales remain high in the near term however there is a little colour on the maps towards the back end of the month which will be watched closely by all with crop still in the paddock.
The cash market for sorghum has held up well in the face of what looks to be the largest sorghum crop for many years aided by both increased hectares and excellent yields. ABARES currently have 21/22 sorghum production estimated at 2 million tonnes however an update is due in March and expectations are that this number should be increased as many in the trade already suggesting a crop higher than that figure. It will be a few months before we get a better handle on the production number with harvest progress ranging from complete in areas in the north of New South Wales and parts of south-western Queensland, to still weeks away from harvesting in the most southern and northern sorghum growing regions of the country.
The export market has been driving values in sorghum with values trading a very narrow range for the last few weeks. As harvest progresses and yield and quality reports all on the positive side, one could have expected values to come under pressure. This, however, has not been the case. Exporters of both bulk and containerised sorghum have been willing to own volume at the levels and with road freight extremely tight at present, grower selling pressure has seemingly been met with comparable demand. The domestic consumer has largely been absent from the sorghum market to date and understandably so with sorghum only a slight discount to wheat into this market. With the amount of stock feed wheat produced in the eastern states in 21/22 its clear that sorghum will need to continue to find its way into export markets in order to maintain these types of values. As is the case with all commodities at present, sorghum will have to fight for space into these export channels with shipping capacity for both bulk and containers already stretched.
Values for cereals have generally been stable through New South Wales over the last couple of weeks with the exception of the usual shorts in the spot market. The extremely tight road freight situation has anyone caught short having to pay significant premiums just to secure capacity. With a huge export program booked for months to come, and challenges in rail execution, the expectation is that road freight should remain firm for some time to come.
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