IT'S NOT only football premierships that are won and lost in September – serious amounts of money are made and lost in the grains industry depending on the vagaries of the season.
Heavy rainfall across nearly all grain producing areas across the country over the past week is expected to result in added production worth hundreds of millions of dollars across the country.
It highlights the fickle nature of the forecasting business. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) decision to cut a million tonnes, or 3.9 per cent, off its previous wheat forecast in its September crop report was well received, but it is now expected forecast yields will be brought back up.
Lachie Stevens, Lachstock Commodities, said his company was due to cut a further half a million tonnes from its current estimate of 24 million tonnes of wheat at the end of the week, but said he would now leave the figure at 24mt.
“It was an absolutely crucial rain, especially through NSW.”
Crops in NSW’s central west were in a critical condition up until the rain, which delivered up to 80 millimetres to places like Warren.
“The hot weather last week had really knocked them around, but this rain does mean there will be a floor there in terms of production.”
He said the good parts of the country this year, South Australia, southern Victoria and WA looked increasingly likely to have bumper yields.
“South Australia is just a garden at present.”
Most of the Mid-North and Yorke Peninsula received over 30mm for the week.
Lachstock has a production figure of over 5mt of wheat for SA, putting it at the second highest level ever.
Mr Stevens said Western Australia was also tracking well.
“There’s a couple of dry spots in the Kwinana and Geraldton port zones, but overall, with another 15-25mm last week, it looks really good.”
Nicholas Brooks, Australian Crop Forecasters senior analyst, said the rain would avoid further crop production downgrades.
“It’s not that the rain is going to mean we will put on another two million tonnes of production, but it means we will not be downgrading areas we otherwise would have revised down if we hadn’t had the rain.”
He said while NSW and Queensland crops were still likely to be below average, it was now looking like they would get much closer to normal yields.
“These rains have had a great reparative effect on the areas that really need them and have further boosted seasonal prospects in the areas that look good.”
In the Victorian Mallee, which was also dry, stormy rain delivered relief, especially to the eastern Mallee.
Woomelang farmer Chris Kelly received 32mm and said it would be the difference between a profit and a loss.
“It had got very dry, and we were probably only looking at yields around 1.2t/ha, but that has turned around now and if we can get another rain or two, we could go OK.
“We really were running out of time, it’s just come right when we needed it most.”