THE GOOD rain across much of Australia in early 2020 has sparked off a frantic demand for forage crops for immediate planting while retailers of more traditional winter crops have also reported a surge in enquiry.
Oats are the headline act with seed increasingly hard to come by.
Chris Walsh, broadacre development manager for Victorian-based seed business AGF Seeds, said oats were difficult to source wherever you were located.
"There just are not that many for sale, we've been fielding demand from far and wide for them," Mr Walsh said.
"It's not unusual to field enquiries from interstate about products but I can safely say that this year I have spoken to a lot of people I have never spoke to before and they are mainly people in the northern cropping zone hunting for oats as a forage crop."
Mr Walsh said the demand was mostly from mixed farmers who are keen to put recent moisture to good use and generate some feed with an option to potentially make fodder.
Oats were certainly the preference but he added other choices such as winter wheat and even barley were being considered.
"The preference is for oats because that is the crop that has always filled that grazing niche but new winter wheat varieties can provide very good feed source earlier in the year with the added bonus of potentially taking it through to grain if it suits."
He said industry speculation of $1000 a tonne for oats out of the paddock for seed was probably inflated but added prices were very solid.
"Those $1000/t offers are probably only out there for someone selling a couple of tonne, but even so the more realistic figures of $600-700/t for reasonable volumes are still very high which is why, combined with the lack of availability, people are looking at other options."
In terms of the winter crop proper, canola is shaping up to be a popular choice.
Craig Choice, Pioneer national sales and marketing manager, said there had been solid demand in canola producing regions following the good rain.
"The subsoil moisture gives the farmers a bit of confidence and canola can fit a good role in terms of weed management," Mr Choice said.
"We've had good enquiry across all the major product types, with particular interest in our Roundup Ready (RR) lines."
Mr Choice said another favourable factor for canola was that farmgate prices were strong.
"Canola prices are very strong and that is another factor encouraging farmers to potentially put a little bit more in."
Mr Walsh said in the south people were looking at winter canola.
"It gives them a chance to utilise the moisture now without having to worry about the crop bolting in late winter or early spring."
Douglas Lush, territory manager for northern NSW and southern Queensland for AGT, said he was mostly fielding enquiry about winter and forage wheat at present.
"In this neck of the woods there is not a lot of interest in the mainstream varieties in terms of wanting to buy it immediately, but people are looking at longer season varieties.
He said the rain had lifted the mood but added farmers were still cautious.
"Some have noted that in spite of flooding in parts their soil moisture profile isn't full, so I think they would really like to see some follow up falls in the next month."
Although oats are not a major part of the AGT portfolio Mr Lush confirmed there was local demand for seed.
"There is not a lot of seed around which is seeing people experiment, I am hearing of triticale being planted for grazing, which is something different for the area."