Australian Malt Barley Export Bounces 30%
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FAS/Canberra forecasts Australia’s MY 2023/24 Barley production at 10 MMT, 4.1 MMT below the near-record MY 2022/23 crop of 14.1 MMT. The forecast production would still be a relatively large crop but remain below the previous 10-year average after the last three seasons produced the three biggest crops on record. The lower production is related to a forecast reduction in planted area. The lower forecast is also due to the expectation of lower yields, which still would be seven percent above the previous 10-year average yield.
A significant positive for MY 2023/24 is that at the start of planting in April 2023, there have been excellent autumn rains, and sub-surface soil moisture across most of the Barley cropping areas is also very good. This is expected to result in outstanding crop establishment. However, the key reason for the lower Barley yield forecast is the expected dry conditions from May to July 2023.
Like wheat, Barley is typically planted from April to June and harvested from October to December. Those in more northern areas generally have earlier planting and harvest compared to the more temperate climate areas in the south. As mentioned earlier, most of the winter cropping regions have had average to above-average rainfall in March 2023 before the start of planting, but it has also continued into early April.
At the start of planting this year, the sub-surface soil moisture is also generally at average or above, enabling autumn rains to link up with the sub-surface soil moisture. This will provide excellent conditions for successful crop establishment and early to mid-season growth, based on the amount of sub-surface humidity available. The strong start to the season will carry the Barley crop well into the season, but sufficient rains in the late winter and early spring months when crop moisture demands are at their highest will be essential to achieving the forecast yield.
Barley harvested area is forecast to decline in MY 2023/24 by eight percent, which equates to 16 percent below the previous 10-year average. As mentioned, this is mainly due to farmers having less suitable areas available in their crop rotations after the last two years of extremely high planted area. Also, farmers are expected to favor maintaining high wheat-planted areas at the expense of canola and Barley area. After such a heavy winter cropping program over the previous two seasons, farmers will be reintroducing fallow areas into their crop rotations, reducing the available area for winter crop planting. There has also been a general trend over recent years of winter crop producers substituting Barley area for canola, contributing to the below-average forecast Barley planted area.
Barley Consumption in Australia
FAS/Canberra’s Barley consumption forecast for MY 2023/24 is 6.0 MMT, the same as the estimate for MY 2022/23. Domestic consumption for malting purposes, which includes malt for export, is relatively stable, with livestock feed consumption being the primary variant from year to year. Malt exports have steadily risen over the last five years from around 500,000 MT a year and bounced from 630,000 MT to 950,000 MT in the previous three years. However, malt production in Australia is likely to be a little more stable from year to year. These variances are relatively slight compared to the overall annual consumption of Barley.
Australia’s Barley exports for MY 2023/24 are estimated at 5 MMT, 3 MMT below the estimate for MY 2022/23 of 8 MMT. According to AgFlow data, Australia exported 1.35 million tons of Barley in Q1 2023. In March, the leading markets were China (0.1 million tons), Saudi Arabia (60,000 tons), the Philippines (30,000 tons), and Singapore (30,000 tons).
Other sources: USDA
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