Arable farmers have fingers crossed after wet start to spring

A healthy supply of grain, with prices holding firm, has Arable farmers crossing their fingers after a damp start to spring.

The latest industry survey (AIMI) for the nation’s cereal growers reveals a resurgence in feed barley with planting returning to regular, historical levels.

Federated Farmers Grains Vice-Chair Brian Leadley says signs are better for the industry as a whole after the previous two seasons, which were indifferent.

“There has been reluctance among growers towards the barley market. But this present wet spring has prompted many to plant barley as they’ve been unable to plant other vegetable crops in sodden conditions.”

Grain meanwhile was moving off-farm, an indication of pricing positivity returning to the market.  The yields next April, however, could yet be compromised.

It depended on how late planting was and if spring crops had been firmly established - assuming they are resilient enough to get through warm, dry spells.

While there was a lift in demand and price as a result, Brian was wary on whether that would be the case after this summer’s harvest.

“I think the end users are still cautious and maybe even cash tight. So if they are buying, it's more on requirement than opportunity. I doubt most have or are thinking of filling up their silos.

“The long-term forecast is a La Nina cycle.  This may mean drought type conditions for some, so I would encourage farmers to contact local suppliers to secure domestically produced cereal grain that is of a quality standard,” says Brian.

In an industry which relies heavily on forecasts and trends the AIMI survey was considered a reliable source in terms of providing comparative data and rolling averages. 

“Anyone who wants to follow arable yields and what those results mean, are increasingly relying on the AIMI. It’s a great planning tool for growers, merchants and end users, who we know are using it more.

“Being able to produce credible data is really useful for measuring whether there’s a necessity for extra imports. As an industry we can demonstrate to the market the volume of domestic (grain) supply at any given time.

Brian says the notable increase recently in biosecurity incursions was also a logical reason for reducing imports and this promoted better outcomes for all those associated with the agriculture sector.

“The reality is one contaminated import can have long-term implications especially with costs and managing it. You can reduce this risk by buying locally and knowing it’s from a reputable grower.”