THE lack of rain which resulted in a lower national canola yield than in 2011 has had a silver lining, the dry conditions paving the way for one of the quickest canola harvests in years.
The Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) estimated the 2.23 million hectares of canola planted this year would yield about 2.70m tonnes compared to 3.19m tonnes from 1.82m hectares in 2011, but NSW was still on track for an anticipated historically large crop of 833,000 tonnes, more than double the five-year average.
Much of the crop was planted in response to the market high of $605 a tonne for canola earlier this year and the lack of canola coming out of Canada, while the national yield average was sitting at 1.2 tonnes a hectare, down from the five-year average of 1.5t/ha.
Cargill Australia senior merchant Katie Colvin, Melbourne, estimated 70 to 75 per cent of the crop was harvested by Tuesday, with some harvesting still underway in southern NSW and Victoria.
Ms Colvin described the quality as a mixed bag, with oil content rang-ing across the country from about 38pc to 49pc.
AgFarm regional manager for southern NSW, Ben Shannon, Wagga Wagga, said oil content was on the up across the Southern Riverina thanks to cooler temperatures, ranging from 43pc to 46pc.
Current prices were ranging from $539/t to $551/t and have been more stable than this time last year.
“This time last year the prices came down to the high $400s a tonne, but they’re firmer now due to the early export program, primarily for Europe and Pakistan,” said GrainCorp spokesman Angus Trigg.
“Prices have come back from the high early in the season, but most growers would be happy with prices now.”
Mr Shannon said prices had been buoyed by strong domestic competition and export demand.
“The lowest price this harvest has been $531/t, so realistically the price has held up well given the large area that’s been seeded,” he said.
Mr Shannon said growers in the Port Kembla zone were gaining the benefits of having export business from multinational graintraders, with Port Kembla port prices trading $12/t more than Newcastle on Monday.
Ms Colvin said all eyes would now be on the South American bean crop being sown, which could turn the market bearish if a large planting, while on the other hand continued dry weather could mean less beans and more support for canola.
No matter what happens down the track, growers are the winners this season, Mr Shannon said.
“I estimate about 25pc to 30pc of growers forward sold, so depending on when they’ve locked in, they’ve done very well or are at market prices at least – certainly this canola harvest is helping growers get cash in the bank account,” he said.