Global wheat prices peaked at record levels last week, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine impacting grain exports from the Black Sea for the foreseeable future.
- Australian growers weigh up whether to lock in contracts for this year’s crop at inflated prices
- Global wheat prices reached record levels with grain exports stalled from Black Sea ports
- An agri-commodity strategist says the Chicago May wheat futures price peaked at almost $US13 per bushel
But what does this mean for Australian farmers?
Although the Australian wheat price has not risen to the same extent, there has been a significant upswing with the crop selling for close to $400 a tonne.
Ariah Park grain grower Matthew Dart said it was difficult to justify the windfalls to be made on the rising market keeping in mind the human impact of war.
“You’re trying to make economic decisions … and then you think of the reality of this situation, and you think does that really matter.”
Prices rise for rain-damaged grain
He said he was able to sell some of their feed quality wheat from last year’s wet harvest at escalated prices.
But he was wary of locking in physical delivery wheat contracts for next season’s crop, despite the close to $400 a tonne prices on offer.
“While it’s certainly been a very wet summer and there’s a profile of moisture there … there’s still frost, mice, grasshoppers, wet harvests, all these things in front of us.”
Impossible to pick top of the market
Grain broker Machallie McCormack said she was seeing more interest in forward contracts than usual at this time of year due to the rise in prices.
“At this stage of the game, usually none of my growers are looking at forward selling,” Ms McCormack said.
“I would say I’ve had inquiries for maybe 10 per cent of my growers.”
She said with prices rising like they were, it would be impossible to pick the top of the market.
“Most growers can tell you their worst crop ever … and that’s usually where you recommend that growers start.
Commonwealth Bank agri-commodity strategist Tobin Gorey said the Chicago May wheat futures price peaked at almost $US13 per bushel, but it had come back in recent days.
“It seems like the storm of panic, as people try to get their hands on and replace cargos they booked out of the Black Sea … has reached its peak.”
However, he didn’t think the market would retreat significantly, with the Ukraine harvest in doubt and Russian exports impacted by sanctions.
Australian exports held back by shipping delays
There’s also a significant gap between US and Australian wheat prices.
Mr Gorey said this was largely because Australia did not have the capacity to increase exports due to a backlog in shipping.
“Right now, we could probably export just about any amount that you could want, but it’s not flowing through because we don’t have the capacity shipping wise or logistics wise at port,” he said.