Cropping market update

The latest insights and information on the Australian cropping market as of February 2024.

It’s that time again when growers are starting to consider their seeding window, and inputs they may need for the 2024 winter cropping season.

Read on for more on local conditions from our Technical Services Managers and catch up on the latest grain price movements from Clear Grain Exchange (CGX).

From the field

"With a hot dry summer for the cropping area in Western Australia, growers are very aware that the window for the 2024 cropping season is closing in. While many decisions are made subject to moisture, the need to arrange the key inputs such as seed, fertiliser and ag chem is front of mind. For many areas the rotation of crops has a set pattern, therefore the need to prepare for crops such as canola is high. As with every year, the challenge will be to logistically move product for the start of the cropping year.

“With dry conditions there has been limited summer sprays, mainly limited to several random thunderstorm events. Carry over stubble won’t be an issue as the dry conditions last year have left paddocks bare. Growers will have minimal preparation work for paddocks. The dry spring has also had the effect of reducing the level of carry over pests, weeds and diseases. This will give some flexibility if they get an opportunity for an early sowing window.

“February will be critical for growers in WA as it will lay the foundation for this year’s crop. For WA these conditions are normal so growers are still optimistic on what 2024 will bring.”

Bill Moore, Elders Technical Services Manager, Western Australia.

"Widespread summer rain is common in my patch, so growers are particularly busy with fallow spraying. The supply of glyphosate in particular is hampering some of those operations, due to supply chain issues. I think for most people that is the main pressure point.

“Summer crops are coming to the tail end of the season, so agronomists and growers are very busy in terms of crop planning rotations, and lining up those initial inputs for crop sowing. Given the soil moisture, there will be less pressure on looking for an early break, so hopefully there will be sowing moisture there and lots of potential for early seeding operations.

“In a lot of areas, particularly the southern end of Victoria, there has been a run of good seasons, and now there is a big demand for nitrogen. There is a lot of soil testing happening at the moment to assess where soils are up to with their fertiliser programs.”

Craig Farlow, Elders Technical Services Manager, Victoria and Riverina.

“January has once again seen large areas of NSW receiving decent rainfall events for the month. These events have been isolated to some degree but have transformed both dryland cotton and summer forage crops combined with the increase in daytime temperatures is leading towards high yields.

“On the back of these rainfall events, insect and weed pressures are evident in many situations. Summer grasses and broadleaf weeds became a topic on most grower lips as expected due to limited chemical options on the back of herbicide production issues. Although not all fallow paddocks have been sprayed, most paddocks have now been sprayed to reduce seed set and moisture loss. Reports of Silverleaf White Fly, Mirids and Heliothis activity in cotton crops and summer forage crops including Maize. Weekly monitoring has been carried out since December and continuing based on current conditions.

“While irrigated crops thrive, some dryland crops are heat stressed from a run of days over 38 degrees. This pattern is continuing and is having an impact on fallow spraying. Weeds are stressed, along with non-optimal conditions for spraying. These include gusty wind conditions mid-morning across many regions, are some of the challenges been faced right now.

“The upside to these rainfall events is most growers are planning on a winter forage crop or pastures considering the soil moisture profiles. This demand has seen strong ordering by growers of forage oats and other cereals with this demand been felt right across the industry. 

“This demand has placed forage oats and many winter cereals in a sold-out position. This has then had a flow-on effect to annual and Italian ryegrass supply and other winter options including clovers and herbs. Lucerne supply was under pressure, but a reduction in overseas demand, has seen large amounts of Lucerne available to purchase, back into the Australia market.

“The wharf issues have also had an impact on pasture supply with containers held up on the docks for a long period of time and logistics issues still impacting the ag industry in 2024. Although the containers are still coming, the actual timeline for delivery is of concern.

“Canola is in a positive situation with most companies having product to sell into a market. The usual popular and some new varieties are in a sold-out position, but there are plenty of options out in the market.”

Adam Little, Elders Technical Services Manager, New South Wales.

Growers managing offer prices - buyers lift bids

Nathan Cattle, Managing Director for Clear Grain Exchange shares his thoughts on the current grain market and what’s been happening on the exchange.

Many growers have been returning from a well-earned summer break, getting kids ready for school, and then considering business requirements and cashflow.

Others in the north east of Australia have been managing summer crops to make the most of recent rains which has required more income to cover expenses.

As a result, we've seen a lot of growers actively offering their grain for sale and also managing the price of grain already offered.

Growers wanting to sell their grain sooner rather than later, but still looking for better prices than buyers are advertising, have been editing their offer prices to within a $5 to $15 per t range above published bids.

Often growers are splitting grain parcels up into multiple offers at different price points with the aim of selling some in the short term for cashflow but also aiming for better prices in the future.

On the other side of the market, both domestic users and exporters have lifted their bid prices in many instances to get hold of grain, particularly lower quality grain which is trading well above published bids advertised in many cases.

Buyers were relatively patient through the new year period, but eventually they are needing to participate in purchasing grain.

The amount of grain to be exported and consumed domestically this year has not yet been bought from growers and buyers are actively searching the market to fill their requirements.

Prices for ASW1 and lower wheat grades in Victoria are currently the lowest across the country on an equivalent basis by some margin.

Victoria has produced a record crop this year and it needs to be exported. But it doesn’t have to be exported at significantly lower prices than similar quality grain from other parts of Australia.

Victorian grain is needed by offshore buyers, Victorian domestic buyers, and likely by some domestic buyers north of Victoria as they juggle a smaller 23/24 winter crop and await summer crop supplies.

Even with a wet harvest, it is unlikely that Victoria will have produced enough feed grain to meet domestic demand, and there should be no need to sell into export markets below other states.

Feed wheat grades typically trade at ASW1 prices at some stage after harvest. To determine the value of ASW1 grade wheat, Victorian farmers should look at prices in other states.

Growers have opportunity to impact the price of their grain and be ahead of cashflow requirements by offering their grain for sale rather than accepting published bids.

The charts below provide examples of the value growers receive by offering their grain at their price to all buyers.

If your grain is not offered for sale, it can't sell, and you won't know if there are buyers willing to pay the price you want.

33 buyers purchased 29 grades of wheat, barley, canola, faba beans, lupins and oats on CGX last week, with many more buyers searching offers but unable to find grain offered at a price they were willing to bid.

Login to your CGX or igrain accounts to see more price information and what’s traded.

33 buyer businesses purchased grain through Clear Grain Exchange (CGX) last week. Australian grain remains competitive internationally and so continues to attract plenty of buyers. When looking to sell grain, ensure you offer it for sale rather than selling into published bids.

Market indicators

Table shows best published bids and actual traded grain prices from Clear Grain Exchange. Sources - Clear Grain Exchange

 Want to control the selling price of your grain?

Clear Grain Exchange (CGX) is a secure and independent online exchange that allows you to set a price for your grain and market to all buyers.

It’s free to register and offer your grain at your price, pay nothing until your grain is sold.

To register or find our more contact click here or call 1800 000 410

“The best thing about CGX is you set your own price. I sell wheat and barley through CGX and usually achieve above the market value as advertised in the current market”

Jeff Burgess, grain grower, South Australia

Learn more about Jeff's experience with Clear Grain Exchange.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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