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Dry conditions throughout late February have allowed most growers to catch up on summer weed spraying programs, whilst further rainfall events this week, although too early for a season break, will still be useful. The immediate forecast for more rainfall events through mid March could support increased canola plantings, if they eventuate. Mid way through the annual round of Crop Updates meetings in Perth and throughout the wheat belt, a number of key themes are evident as a result of the washup from last harvest. New variety adoption has been rapid with massive increases in hard variety, particularly Mace planted area and Hindmarsh likely to continue for 13/14.
Canola has become an integral part of the rotation in a lot of areas, driven by solid returns and enhanced weed control options offered by GM. Last years record planted area is likely to be at least maintained if not increased further if the break is early enough.
Malt barley area is likely to continue to further decline as a result of poor spreads and agronomic issues with current varieties. On the malt front – three new varieties were accredited last week – Henley, Grange & Scope – still too early to determine if there will be market demand for these though.
WA markets have been well supported over the last month by export shipping short covering demand – pushing basis levels even higher, as a result much of the 12/13 production has been sold at a grower level.
Offshore markets have been quite subdued over the past month due to favourable weather conditions across the US. Winter wheat growing areas as well as funds liquidating their wheat positions.
The increased competitiveness of US orgin wheat has provided some support to the market, however the weight of the sellers is winning out for now. Demand has increased for US wheat with wheat now displacing corn into the feed ration, and there is talk of wheat displacing corn in Ethanol production and increasing export business being concluded.
Australian wheat values have largely followed suit however they have reduced competitiveness to other origins as growers are well sold, at the same time there is strong demand by exporters to cover current commitmets. This is exaggerated in some port zones as prices for certain grades differ significantly to other port zones, driven by regional supply and demand anomalies.
Current season grain values are trading at significant premiums to new season values as anticipation grows of a return to normalised northern hemisphere production dynamics, and tight supply situation prior to this new crop competition commences.