Highlights of a memorable harvest
By James Urquhart
9th February, 2022
With the dust nearly settled on the 2021/22 harvest, it will be with mixed adjectives how we describe this one in the years to come.
For some, the harvest will be measured by the number of headers that were pulled out of a bog, or the millimetres of rain on unharvested crops, or maybe the number of days from start to finish. With headers still rolling in mid-February there is no doubt it has been a long, wet and at times frustrating one, with relentless rain causing all sorts of issues inside and out of the farm gate. However, in spite of the weather (not to mention other covid-related logjams along the supply chain), there will be plenty of highlights to recollect as we look back on the recent harvest.
The obvious highlight was the sheer size of it – and the fact that it came back-to-back with last year’s monster. New South Wales produced in the order of 12.5 million tonnes of wheat falling just short of last year’s record crop. Despite higher wheat yields than last year, the harvested volume fell just shy of 2020/21 due to the larger area planted to canola.
Canola provided one of the more memorable features of the harvest, delivering a huge windfall for Australian farmers. Despite the increased acres and a new record production for NSW, pricing held historically strong throughout harvest, and whilst it has drifted off its season highs, it remains in decile nine territory. A brief moment of panic struck mid harvest when it felt like a big portion of the crop would be weather damaged beyond use, but the canola crop managed to avoid the magnitude of quality issues felt in cereals. Given the volume of canola that was committed pre-harvest by the grower the industry’s ability to find a solution for the most part, was fortunate.
After a number of years of wheat quality going largely unrewarded, production issues in the northern hemisphere meant that there was always going to be a heavy reliance on Australian milling wheat. The pre-harvest optimism for healthy protein premiums gathered further momentum when Western Australia began yielding a crop historically low in protein and successive weather events rolled across New South Wales downgrading a large chunk of that crop. Subsequently, milling wheat premiums rallied to levels not seen for years. The malting barley story was similar and as such the market took a similar trajectory, with buyers bidding up to $100 premium over feed barley at times. Victoria remained relatively unscathed by the inclement harvest weather and offered up a more ‘normal’ quality profile, allowing fulfilment of domestic consumer demand and harvest export commitments and curtailing any further upside.
One thing is for certain, it will be one of the most unforgettable harvests in New South Wales memory. Furthermore, if the rain that caused great frustration throughout the 21/22 harvest helps build the foundations for a successful 22/23 season then this harvest will only improve with age.
Canola growers prepared for price volatility
New season canola prices are starting the year in nosebleed territory relative to other years, which makes canola a very attractive option to growers in 2022 .Read More
Keeping all the irons in the fire
As harvest rolls into its fifth month through parts of New South Wales, growers and traders alike are now turning their attention to the considerable task of executing one of our biggest crops on record.Read More
Disruption in the feed grain sector
Australia's key atmospheric and oceanic indicators point to a continued La Niña weather pattern sticking around until at least February 2022.Read More
Headwinds facing farmers in 2022
Harvest is slowly wrapping up on the east coast however the ever persistent La Nina continues to delay the placement of the final full-stop on this seasons bumper harvest.Read More
The higher the bid, the further to fall
As December finally brought the welcome news of a reprieve from the rain across most of the East Coast, the increase in harvest activity unfortunately seemed to coincide with a decrease in values to the Australian grower.Read More
Wave of grain hits canola price
The unfortunate reality of the huge wave of grain that has hit the system in this short period of time is the effect it has had on cash markets.Read More