Rain brings relief, but big dry lingers

Late autumn showers have given east coast farmers a drop of relief but rainfall in many of the nation’s key agricultural regions remains below five-year average levels as drought conditions continue.

Rabobank’s latest monthly agribusiness wrap says a moist May and follow-up showers in June helped top up soil moisture levels across the east coast, allowing many producers to push ahead with their winter cropping plans.

But the long-running dry that has contracted livestock herds, cut milk supply, and necessitated the first grain imports in 12 years continues to weigh on various regions.

Even several west coast cropping areas, which to date had not been hit as hard as some in the drought-stricken east, are experiencing critically low soil moisture levels.

Rabobank grains and oilseeds analyst Cheryl Kalisch Gordon said on Friday local grain prices will continue to trade at the mercy of the weather in the coming weeks and will be driven by demand for livestock feed.

“Season opening rains across Victoria and Southern NSW had pushed basis lower during the first half of May, before weather concerns again moved markets higher,” Ms Kalisch Gordon said on Friday.

“Irrespective of how the season pans out, we expect east coast basis to continue to trade above average while stocks rebuild.”

AAP

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