Mixed outlook

By Country News

The 2019 winter crop outlook is a mixed bag, with a solid, late break in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia driving strong plantings, while NSW and Queensland continue to face very tough conditions.

NAB’s Rural Commodities Wrap has forecast a national winter wheat crop of 20.4million tonnes, slightly lower than the ABARES June outlook of 21.2million tonnes.

NAB agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell said the bank’s assessment of the winter crop outlook was optimistic for Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, but substantially more subdued for NSW.

‘‘Our concern at this stage is that the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a drier-than-average winter and start to spring, which would keep production low in the already dry eastern regions,’’ Mr Ziebell said.

The NAB Rural Commodities Index rose 0.5 per cent in June, with record lamb prices and a slight upward trend in the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator both contributing factors.

‘‘Lamb prices are well into record territory, surging beyond 900¢/kg amid strong demand and a drought-induced supply shortage,’’ Mr Ziebell said.

‘‘The ability of prices to remain at these levels through the spring flush remains uncertain though.

‘‘Wool is lower, with the Eastern Market Indicator below $18/kg. While still a strong price, there is cause for caution should the trade dispute between China and the United States continue.’’

NAB said the premium for finished and southern cattle continued, reflecting strong demand for beef and younger animals in regions able to support a growth in numbers.

The report also said Global Dairy Trade auctions were negative for four auctions in a row in US dollar terms, while opening prices for 2019-20 were generally strong.

It said farm input prices were mixed, with fertiliser trending lower on the back of softer urea and US natural gas prices, while feed had risen.