Canola lifts to $510/t as planting ramps up

Michael Nott planted his 160-hectare canola crop at "Uplands", Boggabri, on Monday.
Michael Nott planted his 160-hectare canola crop at "Uplands", Boggabri, on Monday.

CANOLA has had a slight boost in recent weeks, coming back from a dip about a month ago to settle at $510 a tonne.

Planting ramped up across the Central West and northern NSW last week, with most growers looking to get their crops in before forecast rain this week.

Australian Oilseeds Federation executive officer Nick Goddard said while it was too early to tell how much canola would be planted, he expected a lift from last year’s crop, despite a shortage of hybrid seed.

“Anzac Day is the traditional planting day for canola but some growers in southern NSW have taken advantage of available moisture to plant earlier, some at the end of March,” Mr Goddard said.

Last year’s huge shift to chickpeas led to a big decrease in canola, with 810,000 tonnes harvested in NSW compared to 890,000 the previous year.

“There’s still strong interest in chickpeas this year, but industry expectations are that the area sown to canola will be up on last year,” Mr Goddard said.

“The lack of seed shouldn't hold back the area being planted, but might decrease the yields people will get because the hybrid varieties generally yield better. There’s plenty of farmer retained seed out there – it was hybrid production that really got hit by the floods last year which has led to the shortage.”

​AWB territory manager Darren Patterson, Wagga Wagga, said new crop canola was trading at $510/t to all ports.

“It has been a little higher, up to $525/t two months ago, but then it dropped to $490/t,” Mr Patterson said.

International soybean trade has influenced prices. 

“There’s strong demand from China for soybeans, which has an effect on other vegetable oils, so usually as the soybean market is stronger, canola is stronger,” Mr Patterson said.

“There’s also the dry weather in Europe. Europe is big user of canola for biodiesel and dry weather have caused question marks over their developing crop.”

It’s been a good start for canola crops so far, with warm weather encouraging good establishment in the earlier planted crops.

“If we get this rain and it stays relatively warm crops should really get going,” Mr Patterson said.

While growers in the south have been quick to plant canola, more area is going to chickpeas in the state’s north. 

Narrabri agronomist Dean Hancock, Delta Agribusiness, said the canola area had been impacted by growers choosing chickpeas, thanks to strong prices – up to $1000/t delivered Downs in March. 

“There’s been the big shortage of canola seed in the north, but chickpeas are up by about 50 per cent on last year.”

Shortage prompts a shift in canola variety at Boggabri

MICHAEL and Maree Nott planted their 160-hectare crop of Bonito canola "Uplands", Boggabri, on Monday, and were hoping for rain this week.

They were among the many farmers impacted by the canola seed shortage.

“It sounds like most of the seed was snapped up before Christmas,” Mr Nott said.

“We'd usually grow Hyola, but this was all we could get.

“With this variety I can keep my seed for next year, but it also has an end point royalty payment of $4 or $5 a tonne on top of planting costs.”

The canola was planted on marginal moisture, but it has still been a good preparation with 50 millimetres of rain at the end of March and small showers since.

The Notts will plant 160ha of barley this week and begin on the 350ha wheat crop next week.

“Hopefully some showers will bring the canola up,” Mr Nott said.

“The black soil has got plenty of moisture so we'll be able to get the wheat up, but we'll need some follow up rain for all the crops in May.”

Mr Nott stores his canola on farm to market when prices are high, with all his canola going to Newcastle port through Cargill last year.

Wagga Wagga-based AWB territory manager Darren Patterson said the majority of canola growers would sell at harvest.

“We won't get a lot of forward sales made this far out – growers are more comfortable when it's in the ground and confident they'll have a crop.

“Most growers prefer to wait until September before they commit.”