Despite the size of the premiums on offer, many wheat producers throughout southeastern Australia may not set their sights on delivering Prime Hard wheat this year.
In early August, AWB forecast a $225/t pool return for Prime Hard wheat, a premium of $50/t over ASW10, but many growers who elected to sow canola in their high-fertility paddocks or who are taking a cautious approach to late-sown crops may not be able to take full advantage of it.
Growers at the recent GRDC-sponsored Temora and Condobolin Grains Research Expos were offered the results of three years' research in a grower's guide to Australian Prime Hard wheat production in southeastern Australia.
The guide provides producers with comprehensive management strategies including farming science, agronomy and market perspective. It comes after many years lobbying by southern growers for information that would let them grow our premium wheat grade, and fulfils a cherished hope of AWB Limited to 'drought-proof the production of its most valuable export commodity.
Southern wheatbelt producers who have been building soil fertility over some years are in an excellent position to take advantage of APH premiums. The grower's guide offers them a step-by-step recipe for success.
Trials preceding publication were sown at 15 sites stretching from the traditional Prime Hard wheat country in northern NSW all the way through central and southern NSW, Victoria, SA and into WA. All sites were able to produce wheat at 13 per cent protein, the southern sites performing particularly well.
Janz at 13 per cent - late nitrogen boost
Janz, the most widely grown variety throughout the area, has been approved as a Prime Hard variety for this season, but it must make 13 per cent protein to be accepted as the premium grade. Keith Woodlands, district agronomist at Parkes in central west NSW, says that he has been advising producers in his district to consider late applications of nitrogen as a means of boosting protein levels.
"Unfortunately," he says, "many of them elected to sow canola in their most fertile paddocks. Others were forced to sow so late that they doubt that they'll be able to produce the necessary level of protein. They're taking a more cautious approach and have set their sights on producing Australian Hard wheat currently estimated to return a $17/t premium over ASW10.
Further south and west, Rachel Silvestro reports a good deal of interest in the new publication. She says that producers in the irrigation country and the dryland areas around the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area were looking "very early in the season" for the type of information contained in the guide. She reports a high level of interest in the book, "particularly given the relatively disappointing market prospects for canola this season".
Quality will hold price
World wheat prices this year are depressed, the Chicago futures markets reporting 20-year-low prices for the crop currently being harvested in the northern hemisphere. However, the quality of the crop in USA and Europe is much more variable than usual and quality high-protein wheat is showing a strong premium.
Trevor Flugge, Chairman of AWB Limited, told growers at Temora and Condobolin recently that he expected the premium to hold good throughout the season.
The guide was developed cooperatively by scientists from CSIRO, Quality Wheat CRC, NSW Agriculture, Agriculture Victoria, Primary Industries South Australia, and AGWEST and was supported by growers through the GRDC.
* Australian Prime Hard Wheat in South-Eastern Australia... A Grower's Guide is available free from departments of agriculture, Pivot and Incitec suppliers and through the GRDC via the Rural Connect catalogue.
Contact: Mr John Oliver 02 6938 1816 Mrs Helen Allen 02 6938 1802