Peter's Blog

Winter rains open season

I rise today to talk about the wonderful rains that have spread across this state not just this week but in the weeks leading up to this. It has led to the City of Adelaide having its wettest April since 1998, with nearly 100 millimetres falling over the city, but those good rains have extended over much of the state. I am particularly interested in it at this time of the year because, of course, we are at the very beginning of the 2020 winter cropping season.

Collectively, falls of about 10 to 20 millimetres have fallen across Eyre Peninsula; some places certainly have been higher in the south and the west, so that is a reasonable start for a lot of our West Coast farmers. There have been higher falls in the east of the state, 20 to 40 millimetres, which is not uncommon through the eastern state and even into the northern Mallee, so it is an excellent break. It is a solid break. It is the best one we have had for some time.

There have also been good rains in Victoria and New South Wales. This is significant of course because, particularly in New South Wales, we know they have been in drought for much of the past three years. It will lead to better flows down both the Murray and the Darling. There were better rains earlier this year across Queensland. They do not expect a lot of winter rain in Queensland, but the summer rains that they have there have given their winter croppers good soil moisture and have led to flows down the Darling. Western Australia is still waiting, but they can make do with a later break as long as they have good winter rains.

The Indian Ocean Dipole is in negative territory. That is actually a good thing, as it leads to better rains across the majority of the Australian continent. I do not always put a lot of store in long-range weather forecasts, but it is out there and we will go with it. We are certainly off to a good start.

Tractors are going across the state, across the cropping belt, from the Far West to the South-East. Cereal grains, such as wheat, barley and oats, are going into the ground, and canola, which is a spectacular and very important crop to the higher rainfall areas in the state. Of course, it has been much discussed this week in this place in relation to the GM bill. We are certainly pleased to get that through this place. Pulse crops, such as lentils, beans, peas, lupins and chickpeas—and there may be some I have forgotten—if not going in right now, are about to go in.

The Hon. T.J. Whetstone: Safflower.

Mr TRELOAR: Safflower—the Minister for Primary Industries reminds me. He may come up with some others I do not know in the remaining three minutes. Graziers are sowing pastures for feed into warm soil with good moisture in an effort to get their pastures going on the back of particularly good rains in New South Wales.

We have seen outstanding prices for our livestock. New South Wales carries more sheep than any other state in a normal year, and we in South Australia are in a prime position to supply them with restocking breeding ewes and we will see some really good prices.

The Hon. T.J. Whetstone interjecting:

Mr TRELOAR: Yes, I saw $444 for scanned one-year-old ewes in the Stock Journal today. Not everyone is going to get those prices, but they will certainly filter down. Grain prices are also strong. They are surprisingly strong really. There was certainly a drought premium in the market for the last two years. Here in South Australia we shipped wheat to New South Wales on a train out of Crystal Brook on a number of occasions, such was the shortfall that was over there.

COVID-19 has led to a further premium in the first half of this year for old season crop, surprisingly so, but it has been welcome. We are very much at the behest of domestic and world markets. Of course, we compete against other grain exporters around the world, so a lot will be dependent on what happens in their cropping season as well. We have a long way to go here, but we are certainly off to a good start.

I talked about the dynamics of the world economy earlier and, interestingly, we have an extremely low barrel price for oil and that is actually assisting our primary producers at the moment. The cost of diesel has dropped significantly and a lot of the input costs, such as nitrogenous fertilisers and chemicals, which are based on the petrochemical industry, we should see cheaper. So I believe South Australia is set for a good winter crop and a good harvest come November/December. Fingers crossed that the season continues as it is.