February 28, 2012
WINTER crop producers weighing up their options for the coming season are torn between sluggish prices for nearly all the key crops and exceptional subsoil moisture levels in most regions. With the first early plantings of canola only weeks away, decisions will have to be made soon about which crops to grow. Agintel commodity analyst Lloyd George said heavy January and February rains had ensured a full moisture profile for cereal farmers across many parts of Queensland and NSW. “That is seen by many as being as good as money in the bank,” he said. But Mr George said low wheat prices showed that the world was awash with wheat after a record crop in 2010/11. Bumper crops across the Black Sea countries, China, India and Australia, combined with the lack of any significant production problems, have pushed world wheat supplies close to record levels. World milling wheat prices have fallen 30 percent in the past six months as the full extent of last year’s global production has become apparent. Mr George said local prices had also taken a battering with the Australian dollar 7 percent higher than a year ago and 15pc above the average of the past three years. He said an abundance of lower quality ASW wheat last year and a large sorghum crop had impacted on the feed grain market. AgForce Grains president Wayne Newton said Queensland growers were likely to plant a normal area of winter crops this season. “Unfortunately, the prices for wheat and chickpeas are a bit ordinary,” he said. “But having said that, growers in a significant part of the state don’t have a lot of other options. In the Western Downs and Maranoa, wheat is their main crop. And there is certainly interest in chickpeas when prices are good. But the current prices are at a level that won’t inspire them.” Mr Newton said those growers in South West and Central Queensland who were seriously considering chickpeas were those who were looking for options for maintaining soil fertility and weed control.