Return of arable grower confidence in milling wheat

Farmer confidence in the prospects for milling wheat is on the upswing, with the 11,113 hectares already sown or intending to be sown up 44% on last season.

"That brings milling wheat hectares back very close to the 11,798ha harvested in 2021, before grower confidence was severely dented by changed buying practices by the mills and to a lesser extent poor conditions during last season’s grainfill," Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson, Grains, Andrew Darling says.

The just-released October Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report found that both unsold and sold stored milling wheat was down on the same time last year, and that around 53% has been forward sold compared to 36% in October 2021.

"It’s pleasing to see farmer confidence in milling wheat rally, especially given the industry’s ambitions for New Zealand to lift its production of this staple," Andrew says.

"But there’s a warning there too - milling wheat prices will need to remain competitive against returns from feed wheat, and contract signals given early enough at planting time, or growers will react accordingly."

The estimated tonnage of unsold malted barley grain was 6,500 tonnes, up on the same time last year, while the estimated tonnage of sold grain still stored on farm was 1,800t, much lower than the same time in 2022 (17,600t).

The bulk of unsold malted barley grain will likely be sold as feed but as was noted by the AIMI working group, demand was still there. Heading into summer and the beer drinking season means it’s a good time to sell, although the working group noted this may not last and Kiwi families tightened belts with the rising cost of living.

The October AIMI report found total cereal grain production (wheat, barley and oats) for the 2021/22 season was an estimated 767,000 tonnes, down 1% on the previous year. Maize grain production added another 195,000 tonnes to that total.

Unsold stocks of cereal grain across all six feed and other crops reduced some 63% between 1 July and 10 October 2022, and when compared to the same time last year are estimated to be 5% lower.

The total area sown or intended to be sown in cereals is estimated to be 99,700 hectares - 5% (4,900ha) up on last season. At the time of AIMI survey 10 October, some 87% of this total had been sown, with a wet and cold winter and spring causing delays.

"After a wet planting most areas had significantly dried out, but a good dousing last weekend has set things up again for a decent harvest if conditions stay favourable," Andrew says.


For more information contact:
Andrew Darling, Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson, Grains, Andrew Darling, 027 706 9881
Simon Edwards | Communications Advisor, Federated Farmers
Email: [email protected], Mobile: +64 (0)27 484 8892