Weekly Times article, August 29 2017










Durum wheat prices: North American yield doubt 

ALICE POHLNER, The Weekly Times

August 29, 2017 11:30pm

DURUM wheat growers are waiting to see how the North American harvest unfolds to determine how Australian grain will fare on the market. Key durum-growing areas in Canada and the US have experienced drought conditions, which is likely to affect the quantity and quality of their harvest from now to late September.

Mellco director Steve Mellington said there would be no indication of North American durum prices for about a month, but if the drought affected quality it would bode well for southeast Australian growers.

“The Canadians are the main players in town in terms of dictating world durum prices and at the moment they’re not exactly having a joyous time of it, along with their US counterparts,” he said.“If you were trying to work out if the glass is half full or half empty for Australian growers, it’s more on the full side as there is a greater likelihood that we’re going to see the market respond to any harvest hiccups with the US or Canadian crops.”

Mr Mellington said Canada also had to deal with a large quantity of poor quality durum from last harvest with the intention to mix it with good-quality, new-season durum.“This was one of the reasons we saw durum values ease at the start of our cropping program as the global durum market was needing to deal with what was a fairly burdensome carry-out figure of the Canadian crop,” he said.“If they (Canada) have a disastrous finish and it is low quantity or they have another problematic harvest with weather and downgraded grain, who knows what the dynamics of the market then look like if they can’t blend the two harvests into good quality durum for human consumption.”

First-time durum grower Luke Rethus, from Horsham, said his crops were on track, but would benefit from dry weather after several months of wet.“It’s obviously still early days, but so far so good,” he said. “The next phase for us now is fertilising, aiming to get that durum protein up.”