Feed divide emerges

28 Feb, 2011 05:10 AM
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FARMERS with feed wheat within Grain Trade Australia specifications are having no problem finding a home for their product, and at historically good prices, however it is a different story for those with off-specification wheat.

AgFarm regional manager Brad Knight, based in Bendigo, Victoria, said test weights and field fungi levels were the crucial marketing points.

He said virtually all wheat above the GTA 62 kilograms a hectolitre test weight was being bought, however it was a different story for lower test weight wheat.

“There are buyers there purchasing at a discount down to about 58kg/hl, but below that, it gets increasingly hard to find a buyer.”

Mr Knight said the issue was not so much with the test weight itself, but with the corresponding field fungi levels that accompanied the light grain.

“There are field fungi issues with virtually all wheat below that 58kg/hl that are easily apparent upon a visual inspection.

“With the toxicity issues, buyers are cautious about purchasing this grain.”

Largely unable to deliver into the bulk system, Mr Knight said most farmers with low grade wheat were storing it on-farm and keeping alert for marketing opportunities.

“There may be opportunities later in the season, its just something growers will need to constantly monitor.”

He said there had been reports of wheat with test weights in the low 40s kg/hl.

Geoff Capell, Robinson Grain Trading, Dubbo, said the issue of low quality feed wheat was less pronounced through NSW’s Central West.

“We are buying feed at anything above 63kg/hl.

“It’s not easy to move it all, but we are selling it. There is no interest for anything weighing lighter than that.”

He said most of the crop in NSW had not received quite as much rain as later harvested crops in Victoria, and thus there were not as many issues with field fungi and test weights.

Chris Ayers, CBH eastern Australia manager, said there was still good demand internationally for feed.

“At present, it is just a matter of getting the grain out of Australia, given the logistical issues caused by the floods.”

He said CBH had been accumulating feed to the minimum GTA standards, but no lower grade grain.

“We’re hearing there’s only limited demand for low grade feed wheat, even at a discount, although that could change over coming months.”

Mr Ayers said many trading businesses were working hard to find a market for feed wheat, given much of the grain delivered to multi-grade contracts was feed.

Mr Knight said he had received a lot of inquiry from growers in North Central districts of Victoria about possible demand for off-specification feed wheat.

“There’s a lot of wheat there that is below GTA feed standards, however the toxicity issue means buyers are approaching it particularly cautiously.”

He said most of the demand was for export.

“It’s mostly going to Melbourne for bulk and containerized exports, there’s only a little interest from the domestic users.”

Mr Knight said buyers were looking to supplement whatever was coming out of the bulk system with whatever they could get on-farm in order to get vessels out.

The difficulties in shifting grain are not confined to wheat, Mr Knight said there was also little interest in Feed 3 barley.

“In other years, the actual grain was pretty good, if small, but this year there is a lot of shot grain, which the end-users aren’t that interested in.”

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