By Matt Wallis
14th December, 2022
Feels like this has been communicated quite often lately however yet again harvest is proving to be more challenging and stressful than the last with inclement weather, bogged machinery, another late maturing crop, tight labor market and terrible and declining road conditions all making the task at hand that bit more challenging. Of course, we never expect to get a clean run at it and if the job were smooth sailing and easy all the time, well everyone would be doing it, right?
Needless to say, any progress is good progress and leading up until Christmas the forecast appears conducive for the harvest pace to increase rapidly. Although still not getting hot like we are accustomed to this time of year, consistent days in the mid to high 20’s are sure to be well received.
Overall, the harvest pace this year is dragging its heels behind that of the last five years quite considerably. Calling Australian harvest around 50% completed across all winter commodities and New South Wales marginally lower. The same time last year we were approximately 75% completed nationally and New South Wales 65% completed. In 2020 New South Wales harvest was closer to 85% completed and nationally just over 90% completed.
One of the better news stories this harvest is one that has all participants left scratching their heads and that’s the surprisingly good quality we have hitting the bins. Three months ago, the strong commonly held consensus was that we were looking at a harvest dominated by low quality SFW wheat or ASW at best. As it stands today approximately 50% of the harvested crop in NSW has been graded as APW or higher with a further 20-30% graded either AUH2, AGP1 and ASW1. Even the wildest of punter wouldn’t have tipped that leading into harvest.
Furthermore, the canola delivered into the system has for the most part tested well above average oils and weighing in the high 60kg/hl. This is the first year in my time that I have seen test weights above 70kg/hl which is nothing short of incredible.
And lastly, malt barley, safe to say that leading into harvest with prices around $550 delivered local depot that most maltsters and traders alike were caught by surprise at the volume of malt hitting the bins. This is sure to leave many growers scratching their heads as to how and why but sometimes it’s also just as good to sit back and say thank you, which I’ve no doubt those fortunate enough to get harvesting early most certainly did!
On the local marketing front, it seems that the domestic consumer has also been caught on the back foot with the better-quality grain harvested. It might take some time however the way the quality profile is shaping up one would assume these consumers will have to start looking at paying ASW or better equivalent prices for wheat rather than the cheaper SFW1 they are accustomed to. In track markets there is most certainly some optimism around prices with the lower grades catching a handy bid and firming as exporters look to cover in the cheaper grades to fill boats in the near term.
As always, wishing everyone a safe and prosperous harvest period, Merry Christmas and all the health and happiness for the new year.
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