Testing times in winter
A WET, hot start to autumn for most of Australia followed by a projected dry spell will mean mixed results for Australian farmers over the winter period.
Poor weather took a heavy toll on Australian milk production in February, with milk supply down 10 per cent from last year, according to the latest Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly report.
Milk production is down 8.4 per cent on last year, about 580 million litres.
The Rabobank report said while decent March rainfall had carried through into April across many dairying regions, the looming threat of El Nino and a drier-than-average winter was expected to slow production on the prediction of a reduced availability of good feed.
It forecasts full-year southern Australian milk prices in 2017-18 to reach about $5.70/kg milk solids.
Global wheat prospects remained solid in all major production regions, with global wheat demand down 1 per cent from last year.
Stock levels remain keeping prices subdued.
“The next six to eight weeks will be telling for the 2017-18 Australian wheat harvest volume high, ... and yield prospects are average to possibly declining,” the report said.
Increased planting of canola is expected, with prices partially rebounding after a drop to almost $500/tonne last month.
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has increased 9 per cent since March last year, from 6.11/kg cwt to 6.66/kg cwt on April 6 this year.
“While normal seasonal trends see prices start to increase through April as supplies contract, it is difficult to see prices much higher than current levels,” the report said.
Cattle production and slaughter levels remained lower in February and total production was down 10 per cent from last year.
Exports of cattle to South Korea dropped 25 per cent in March, while exports to Japan increased 18 per cent.
Lamb prices set a record on April 6, hitting 6.81/kg, up 30 per cent on last year.
Lamb exports to China also set a record, totalling 12,647 tonnes swt for the first three months of the year.
Wool came down from its March high of 1551c/kg, hitting 1457c/kg earlier this month, as a drop in Merino bidding saw markets settle.