Rain welcome in the North with Sorghum set to be sown.
By Georgia Campbell
28th November, 2023
Storm conditions have provided welcome rainfall to areas of Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales. With rainfall totals between 15-50mm in the last week and some areas receiving more than 100mm. Southern New South Wales down into Victoria has seen increasingly widespread rain activity over the last week, with storms halting harvest for periods of time. Forecast for the next week to 10 days remains ominous, with continuing rain and storms predicted. While harvest is well and truly finished ahead of schedule in Queensland and Central and Northern New South Wales, the rain and storms are causing headaches in the South. While harvest is well underway, there is still large areas of wheat, particularly in Victoria which have not been harvested. Rainfall predictions for the next 10 days are concerning for growers and those with a vested interest in grains, with weather fronts continuing to push through. The question growing louder from all, is how the crops will fare and what is grain quality going to look like? Both questions will only be answered with time.
The rainfall has come at a crucial time for the sorghum planting window in Central Queensland and Northern New South Wales. While it is far from the ideal sorghum planting window, there has still been a narrow opening of opportunity to sow off the initial rainfall totals. Initial predictions for the 2024 sorghum crop had been well below previous years but it is now expected that QLD and Northern NSW will see some decent areas planted. The question will be, will the Western areas plant summer sorghum, or look to retain their moisture profile for a 2024 winter crop?
Markets have been grappling with the surge in the predicted planting area and sorghum prices have dropped lower over the last week as a result. The current market pricing for sorghum is only considering domestic consumption at this stage. With all eyes watching to see what demand may present itself from China. The United States has produced a significant sized sorghum crop in 2023, the first for several seasons. This crop has largely been traded into the Chinese market. The key to any future strengthening of sorghum prices here in Australia will be understanding the market into China for traders. The market will also eagerly be watching predictions for future follow up summer rainfall. Remembering Australia is still facing a forecasted El Nino outlook into the middle of 2024.
Rainfall totals are also seeing reducing demand for wheat and barley in the domestic market. Livestock producers who have been hand feeding livestock, will be hoping to wind back feeding programs off the back of increasing grass growth. Most major consumers are also partially covered through into April-June 2024, with Northern NSW and Southern Queensland having filled the gaps for summer grain demand. New crop prices have slowly slid over the last month and could continue to trend down if rain keeps on falling.
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