The deteriorating season is beginning to hurt livestock prices and wipe millions from the value of cereal crops in the Riverina and central New South Wales.
Conditions across New South Wales have taken a dramatic turn in the past fortnight, heightened by severe frosts which blanketed most of the state’s grain belt.
This has forced many farmers to begin cutting cereal crops for hay.
To add to the farmers’ woes in the north, the turn off of sucker lambs is now in full swing.
Many producers are unable to hold stock, electing to offload due to a lack of feed.
Without decent rain in the next two to three weeks, the spring will be short-lived for many farmers in New South Wales.
This was obvious at Wagga Wagga on Thursday, when sheep and lamb rates buckled significantly under the pressure of increased supplies of lighter weight new season lambs.
The yarding lacked weight over 24kg carcass weight.
For some producers, a tipping point has been reached due to little rain and severe frosts of up to minus 6 degrees in some areas.
New season trade lambs made from $118 to $161, with select sales up to $163 to average around 600-618¢/kg cwt.
Heavy new season lambs were thin on the ground, selling from $159-$177. Extra heavy pens made form $175-$185. A single pen received $200, weighing 31kg cwt, a saleyard record.
The mutton market also hit a hurdle, with rates falling $10-$22. Heavy sheep topped at $132 to average 355-405¢/kg cwt.
Trade mutton sold from $82-$108 and light sheep from $64-$90.
Price trends fluctuated in opening sales this week, with numbers rising again at most centres.
Bendigo’s market was quoted $3-$7 cheaper.
The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) noted that some lambs were price sensitive.
This was due to the fact that processors stepped in and out of the market, resulting in bidding being somewhat erratic.
The bulk of the trade weight lambs to domestic processors ranged from $114-$165 to average 613¢/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs softened by $4, with signs that the export market is coming under some pressure.
Heavy suckers sold at $158-$190 to average 609-622¢/kg.
Store orders were few causing prices to ease $3-$8.
The day’s mutton market was also softer in a yarding that was dominated by mostly Merino ewes.
The strongest demand was for trade and plainer sheep.
The main lines of mutton at Bendigo generally averaged 370¢/kg cwt.