Bounce in barley
BARLEY growers are already looking at big rewards for sticking with the commodity this season.
With present track prices of $260-plus a tonne for feed barley and additional increases upwards of $20/t for malting types, growers may be smiling even greater by harvest’s end, given a good finish after a very reasonable start to this growing season.
Daily grain cash prices by Elders Grain (Toepfer International) on Monday for barley delivered to port at Newcastle and Port Kembla ranged from $276/t to $279/t.
The push for the price increase of cereal grains was coming from a big reduction in the exportable surplus of barley out of the Black Sea region and the prevailing drought across the US.
GrainCorp representative, Angus Trigg, Sydney, said there had been a slight decrease in international production and talk of quality issues again in Europe.
“This could mean that malt premiums could turn up a bit,” he said.
Many made the decision at sowing to cut back on cereal plantings to make way for more canola, resulting in the doubling of the canola sowing acreage.
Moisture profiles were perfect in most cases and the bucket of dollars canola was offering looked much more enticing than the price of wheat and barley earlier this season.
However, primary production has always swung with the punches of drought or other hazards in the northern hemisphere and this year the pendulum has begun to swing Australia’s way.
But NSW sowings are down by 14 per cent on last year.
NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) winter cereals specialist, Peter Matthews, Orange, said growers had maintained their wheat to a point, but barley had been a crop they dropped in favour of canola to a large extent.
This year the department estimates 641,540 hectares would be sown compared to 743,425ha last year.
“A lot of growers, particularly in the south east, reported to have dropped their barley rotation in preference to canola,” he said.
“There is also a slight reduction in wheat areas with some of that going into canola as well.
“It’s nice to see growers looking towards good canola prices with wheat and barley moving up as well.
“The low price at sowing is now rising to respectable levels where growers can make some reasonable money.”
Condobolin DPI district agronomist Ian Menz said he expected the area harvested to be close to the predicted 50,000ha.
“Wheat sowing dropped because of price and while there was good soil moisture, a lot swung to canola,” he said.
However, barley growers (in the Condobolin area) stayed “fairly consistent” compared to last year.
“The normal barley producers still put their barley in, with most growing Schooner or Buloke for malting and Hindmarsh being the food variety,” he said.
“This is my third season in this area and barley has stayed consistent with sowing over that period.”
With a good finish to the growing season, barley producers may be rewarded well for sticking to their “old favourite”.