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Prices for feed bar­ley have smashed through a 10-year price re­sis­tance point as dry conditions per­sist in the Eastern States.

Strong de­mand, tight sup­ply, ral­ly­ing in­ter­na­tional prices and con­tin­ued dry weather have forced feed bar­ley prices to more than $300 a tonne.

A whop­ping $400 a tonne was also recorded in Queens­land last week af­ter a $20 a tonne jump spurred on by farm­ers’ ef­forts to se­cure sup­plies.

Mer­cado an­a­lyst An­drew Whitelaw said feed bar­ley prices had “shot through the roof” in re­cent months, with the av­er­age farmer in WA sell­ing feed bar­ley for $270 to $300 a tonne.

“Dur­ing the past 10 years, bar­ley has just about reached that $300 mark, but hasn’t quite ex­ceeded it,” he said.

“At the mo­ment it is just push­ing above that mark . . . it hasn’t reached that since 2008.”

Feed bar­ley fu­tures have dou­bled dur­ing the past 18 months, af­ter record­ing an eight-year price low in Jan­uary last year caused by the bumper 2016-17 crop.

Just how high they can go is up for de­bate. Mr Whitelaw said in gen­eral, grain prices could only go as high as the cost of im­port­ing grain from over­seas. “Corn is an al­ter­na­tive feed grain and while parts of the United States are dry, corn prices are about $213 a tonne,” he said.

“If there is no res­o­lu­tion between the US and China, that is likely to en­sure that Chi­nese de­mand comes from Aus­tralia. On the west coast, prices will be largely de­ter­mined by what hap­pens in China.”

CBH mar­ket­ing and trad­ing gen­eral Jason Craig said de­mand for feed bar­ley re­mained strong. “Strong old­crop de­mand for feed bar­ley is be­ing seen from eastern Aus­tralia as the drought con­tin­ues in Queens­land and New South Wales,” he said.

“This com­bined with limited old-crop bar­ley stocks in WA, as a re­sult of a strong ship­ping pro­gram early in the year to China, is see­ing grower val­ues strengthen to $300 per tonne free in store.”

It is fore­cast 1.6 mil­lion hectares will go to bar­ley in WA this year.

Pic­ture: Si­mon Santi

Bev­er­ley farmer Duncan Young in one of his Spar­ta­cus bar­ley fields.

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