Agfarm Finance Newsletter – April – 2019 Agronomy.

This article was co-authored by Agfarm and Michael Camac, Platinum Ag Coorong Branch Manager and Agronomist 

3.5 minute read

2019 Agronomy

We’re well into the 2019 winter cropping window. Following some favourable rains in eastern Australia, but not yet for Western Australia, we’re going to take a look at what the continued dry means for soil health, planting intentions, fertiliser and chemical applications.

Both South Australia (SA) and the east coast of Australia have had a very challenging 12 months, with some of the lowest in-crop rainfall figures in recent history, as well as devastating late frosts. With little starting ground cover, the dry summer and autumn has left much of this land very exposed creating a tenuous situation for primary producers as we move into sowing, from both an agronomic and financial perspective


**The agronomic information below relates primarily to SA. For information specific to your area and circumstances, please contact your local Agronomist.

Large areas of SA soils are sands or sandy loams, hence very light by nature and prone to wind erosion when exposed. Heavier loam or clay loam soils tend to cause dust storms and lose top soil in strong winds which we saw earlier this year. As well as loss of top soil, windy conditions can also exaggerate soil/root disease. This usually affects crops sown on opening rains when there has been little time for ‘disease break period’ before the crop germinates. Modern seed treatments have helped with this scenario.

Other issues affecting farmers for the 2019 plant include:
– Availability of quality seed due to poor production last season
– Herbicide residue due to low soil moisture levels not adequately breaking down herbicides from last season

Many farmers will sow dry this year. Dry sowing can be risky depending on soil types and rain fall after seeding. However, early established crops generally produce the best outcome, so the gamble is often taken. If significant rains are received by mid-May before ground temperatures fall, we have a chance of a reasonable season. If enough rain falls to allow germination but no timely follow up rains occur, seedlings can die without sufficient sub soil moisture to continue the plants root growth. Some soil types require significant rain events to ‘wet up’ appropriately. Heavier clay/loam soils and non-wetting sands can be particularly problematic when dry sowing. There is also a risk of wind/soil erosion after sowing if the seed bed stays dry.

Later seasonal breaks will drive a few key changes, commonly changes in crop rotation and reduced planted area. For example, canola hectares will generally reduce and may get sown to barley if enough seed is available. Lower rainfall areas will often cut back on the total cereal crop area sown and some areas will be sown for livestock grazing or hay only. Late breaks can also influence fertiliser tonnages and applications with decisions being made “on the run” when there is a break or if crop areas need to be reduced or increased. Urea/SOA quantities are then influenced by how the season develops. Crop chemicals (knockdowns, pre-emergents, fungicides etc) required in-program also are affected by late seasonal breaks. All these elements fuel the financial impacts on farmers this season.


Seasons with rapid changes in grain/hay/livestock prices and a pending break in weather often create opportunities such as increasing the amount of land sown or additional fertiliser applications post sowing. This requires cashflow to enable the purchase of unbudgeted seed, fertiliser, chemical or fuel to keep machinery going. Unfortunately, coming off a poor 2018 season, we know cashflow can be limited to implement these opportunities in a timely fashion. Agfarm offer an input finance program for all your major cropping inputs such as seed, fertilise and agchem. With a fast turn around and simple application, Agfarm Accelerate can allow you to maximise your opportunities as they arise. For more information on Agfarm’s crop input finance, visit or call your local Regional Manager on the details below.

Reid Seaby
WA Regional Manager | 0439 625 853

Kate Phillips
SA Regional Manager | 0438 128 472

Anthony Hall
QLD & NSW Regional Manager | 0400 873 777

James Ryssenbeek
VIC Regional Manager | 0447 743 556


This article was co-authored by Agfarm and Michael Camac, Platinum Ag Coorong Branch Manager and Agronomist 


 About Platinum Ag Services

This article was co-written by Michael Camac, Platinum Ag Coorong Branch Manager and Agronomist. Platinum Ag Services has stores in 11 locations across South Australia and Victoria offering a wide range of products including finance, chemical, seed, stock and pet feed, animal health products, tanks, pumps and irrigation equipment, fencing, hardware tools and garden supplies. They have a strong team of agronomists providing you with the right advice to ensure you can maximise the opportunities of your farming enterprise.

For more information on Platinum Ag Services, visit or call (08) 8130 5000.


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Agfarm Finance Newsletter – February – What you need to know about crop insurance for 2019

This article was guest authored by Ausure 

Around the grounds – February 2019

The hot, dry weather delayed planning and input purchases throughout February with next to all input suppliers reporting sales well below average for this time of year. On the upside, the lack of rainfall has seen a reduced outlay in cost on chemical given summer weeds have not germinated.

Fertiliser prices are expected to fall or at least not rise in the near term so pre purchasing fertiliser isn’t the top of mind which it quite often is at this time of year.

It would seem the increase in free time has sparked farmers to get their finances organised in hope of an Autumn break to not miss an opportunity when it presents its self.

What you need to know about Crop Insurance for 2019

2019/20 winter cropping plans are a hot topic in broadacre areas at the moment and with the mid-range weather forecast instilling little confidence of a substantial break in weather, many are deciding what to plant, if to plant and what type of insurance they should take out to ensure they’re covered if the BOM is correct in its predictions. With this in mind, we’re going to take a look into different forms of crop insurance available in 2019. The good news is that farmers have more options than ever before to protect crop investments. Some insurance products are simple and easily available, while others are relatively new.

2019 sees a significant drop in the number of companies offering Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI), with at least three major insurers withdrawing products and those remaining likely to face capacity restrictions. This is largely due to the expense, poor uptake by the farming community and unfavourable claims results over the past four years.

Single Peril weather products have recently been introduced to fill this void. This offers increased flexibility to farmers and agricultural businesses wishing to offset specific risks vital to their own situation. While the concept of covering all perils is certainly desirable, many perils are already being treated by everyday farming techniques; the use of chemicals, fungicides and top up fertilisers. The overwhelming perils affecting yields are lack of rain, frosts, fire and hail.

Fire and hail insurance are still readily available and reasonably priced. This generally leaves two key perils that need to be covered; rain and frost. Often severe frost and drought conditions go hand in hand where the lack of moisture permeates into below zero temperatures. Many family farms can produce their own rain records for 50 plus years. A quick review of these years matching rain against frost events might allow a strong degree of correlation allowing you to pick a point where the single peril cover of rain will give you the broadest cover at the lowest cost per hectare.

A major advantage of the single-peril products is the flexibility in when you take them out and the periods of risk you can cover. Unlike MPCI covers which need to be bound around mid-April, single peril products can be taken out up to 30 days prior to the risk period.

Let’s look at some of the options:

Fire and Hail Insurance

This is commonly available in Australia and generally the cheapest perils to cover.
– Covers your crop for specified perils, usually fire and hail, but also includes some other benefits such as transit insurance (following harvest), some storage cover and damage caused by straying livestock.
– Covers your loss of yield following a loss caused by an insured peril.
– You can insure for an agreed value per tonne.
– You may have to declare an estimated yield and this will be used to calculate the premium, as well as set a ceiling for the maximum amount payable in the event of a claim.
– Some products let you adjust that yield periodically as the crop develops while others allow you to declare the actual crop harvested and calculate your premium accordingly.

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI)

MPCI generally covers farmers for the loss of yield and/or farm revenue loss caused by a multitude of insured perils. Peril risks can include lack of rainfall, too much rainfall, frost, heat, wind stress, revenue shortfall and a number of others depending on the product. Hence, premiums can be expensive. In addition, there are set up costs to consider as historical farm financials are generally required. This data might be time consuming for farmers to obtain.

Options include:
– Farm income protection
– Agreed minimum yield
– Parametric or weather indexation

Single Peril Weather Insurance

This is a new product suitable for farmers with specific concerns. Currently, it is one of the simplest products to obtain.
– A product is tailored for specific weather events that are important to your farm. You set the parameters (e.g. below average rainfall over a three month period – either the sowing period or prior to harvest). Premiums are calculated according to the parameters set.
– Commonly farmers will want protection against:
    – Lack of rain (specify the period)
    – Frost (specify the period)
    – Too much rain (specify the period)
    – Wind (or cyclone activity)

These products rely on objective, independent, meteorological data so there is no need for loss adjustment or claims negotiation. Revenue reductions or expense enlargements are compensated for within days of contract conclusion.

Protection is tailored to your precise location, exposure and financial requirements. Unlike more commoditised risk transfer policies, weather contracts are bespoke to each farmer’s needs. The only limitations are a third-party data reference provider is used and cover usually needs to be bound at least one month out from the inception date.

Cost of Insurance

A problem many farmers encounter is the cost of insurance. It’s priceless when you need it, but expensive when you don’t. There isn’t really a one size fits all insurance premium as it is heavily tailored to you and your business and sometimes the cover you want is cost prohibitive. Agfarm believe the inclusion of crop insurance is prudent in broadacre farming. For this reason, we have included crop insurance as an approved input that can be paid with Agfarm Accelerate, our input finance program. For more information on Agfarm Accelerate and how it an assist you this season, call your regional manager on the details below.

Which type of insurance is best for your farm or agricultural business?

A locally based insurance broker can help you sort through all the current options available in the marketplace and advise the way forward. For more information and to speak with your local Ausure insurance adviser, Call Michael Cullinan on 0447 528 116 or visit

This article has been guest authored by Ausure:



Reid Seaby WA Regional Manager | 0439 625 853

Kate Phillips SA Regional Manager | 0438 128 472

Anthony Hall QLD & NSW Regional Manager | 0400 873 777

James Ryssenbeek VIC Regional Manager | 0447 743 556


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WA Market Update – 07/12/2018

Chris Nikolaou, General Manager Merchandise

As of November 30th, CBH estimated 2018/19 winter crop deliveries stood at approximately 7.2MMT. This constituted a week on week delivery increase of over 2.3MMT. Expectations are for similar deliveries over the week commencing December 3rd. This would bring harvest receivals to approximately 65% complete with wheat closing in on the 40% mark.

Barley markets continue their soft tone since China announced an anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley last month. FB1 barley values for the Kwinana zone currently stand at $300/MT FIS. In the meantime, exporters are focused on executing their existing China barley sales as quickly as possible before a potential tariff is set. This tariff uncertainty has led to new China business not getting set. One can see the result in the bids over the last three weeks.

WA wheat markets continue to hold with expectations that the smaller national crop should see adequate demand off shore and on the east coast which is deficit this season. Shippers are chasing Kwinana milling wheat for nearby movements. The later harvest (albeit catching up) has led to a scenario where shippers are struggling for cover on December shipments.

Prices as at 6th December 2018

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.



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SA Market Update 07/12/2018

Kate Phillips, Agfarm Regional Manager South Australia

What is harvest 18 without another change? The past week has seen the weather give the headers a clear run but as the week has moved on temperatures rose across the state. The end of the week has seen temps close to 40 degrees and total fire bans bringing headers to a stop.

The eight-day forecast is showing a fairly clear run over the next four days then South Australia is expecting to see state-wide falls of 5-20mm.

James Ryssenbeek, VIC regional Managers and myself spent the week traveling through the Eyre Peninsular. It’s been a story very much of the “haves” and the “have nots” when it comes to the season. We saw crops that would only return seed and other that would provide one of the best seasons in 30+ years.

The majority of the wheat South Australia is seeing is still going hard, while barley is predominantly feed ranging from F1- F3. Canola oils have lifted in areas but the high oils we have seen in previous years are not being realised this year.

Markets remained largely unchanged week on week. The biggest upward move came from canola in the Port Lincoln zone, up $18/MT on this time last week, taking it back to levels from the week before. Port Adelaide zone markets saw little movement both in price and grower selling with most growers looking to wrap up harvest and then look at their options


Prices as at 6th December

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.



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CNSW Market Update – 07/11/2018

Anthony Hall, Agfarm Regional Manager NSW & QLD

A week of no rain and hot weather has tidied up harvest in most areas of NSW and QLD. The only crops left standing are the later ones which had some green in them from the late rains. By mid next week we estimate 100% will be complete. Quality across the board has been good with no reports of down grading.

The sorghum market has softened $5/MT this week on the back of big rains predicted Thursday and Friday next week. Consumers feel this rain will increase yield potential and there was also reports of grower forward selling before the price fell too much. With the heat wave coming through the east coast this weekend we are going to need every bit of an inch of rain just to keep the crop fresh. We have to remember a lot of the sorghum crop is in on marginal moisture. Winds and 37 degree days is going to stress a fair proportion of the crop.

The barley market came under pressure this week with falls of $10/MT. This is mainly being attributed to the imports from WA capping any upside and filling the void of grower selling. Price delivered Darling Downs is now $398/MT and there is still a premium into the boarder markets of $408/MT delivered. This now puts barley at a spread of $40/MT to wheat which we have not seen for quite some time now.

Wheat has traded sideways most of the week. There is still a lot of protein wheat selling with farmers happy to meet the market if they are getting over $400/MT. Feed values have remained strong this with Darling Downs bid at $430/MT without too much selling activity and the boarder markets bid at $438/MT.


Pictured: Harvest 30KM west of Narromine


Prices as at 6th December



* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.


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SNSW Market Update 07/12/2018

Matthew Noonan, Agfarm Account Manager SNSW

The last week has allowed harvest to progress further with dry conditions and warmer weather drying out crops from rainfall in past 10-20 days. West of the Newell seems like it is closing in on the final stages of harvest and growers to the far east are starting on wheat which should be complete in the next 7-10 days. The weather outlook looks favourable for continuing harvest with no more storm interruptions.

Wheat harvest is closing in on the final stages throughout central, eastern and southern NSW. It looks as though the majority will be done by the end of next week. Crop quality looks good with around 70% or more being H2 or higher. Pricing over the past three to four days remained firm with little change. Some delivered markets have at times jumped up to grab demand/cover. But for now, most grades in the system throughout Port Kembla are north of $400/MT site with some APH1/APH2 levels being around $450/MT and $440/MT respectively providing very good historical pricing levels. Sooner rather than later wheat will become wheat with the feed market demand in our backyard needing grain.

Barley week on week has remained steady. The last 24 hours have seen some better pricing creep back in with the spread to wheat ($30-40/MT under) now likely to get some domestic consumers utilising it in the ration to a degree. Exfarm pricing is around $390-410/MT for pickup through Dec – Mar. The Port Kembla track market is ranging from $408-420/MT but is very site dependant. The biggest question around barley is how much has been stored onfarm, and how does that match up with the demand outlook. With demand currently lighter than the past few years, supply may be just enough to cover, but this is reliant on weather and continued supply from WA for northern markets.

Canola is basically the same week on week with the majority harvested throughout NSW. There is some still coming off in the far east and towards VIC border. Pricing levels seem to be holding at around $585-600/MT site. The outlook will depend on how much cover crushers have on east coast. It doesn’t look like the market will push lower as harvest progression moves throughout VIC, but it will keep a lid on prices.


Pictured: Wheat harvest in the Riverina

Prices as at 6th December

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.


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VIC Market Update – 30/11/2018

James Ryssenbeek, Agfarm Regional Manager VIC

Harvest activity through most districts continues to trickle along despite rain disruptions. The rainfall standout this week was Warracknabeal and surrounding areas which received up to 35mm Tuesday night. This pulled up headers for a few days and they’re expected to start again tomorrow. Most other recorded falls throughout VIC were around 10mm or less. Here’s hoping we get a good run for the weekend, as the BOM is indicating a likelihood of continued light showers next week.

Markets remain quiet this week. Graincorp’s most recent update reflects the situation fairly well showing 317KMT received in Victoria this week verses 827KMT at the same time last year. Growers I’ve spoken to continue to warehouse grain or store onfarm in the hope of improving markets and/or waiting to know what they have in its entirety before committing.

For those with grain to sell, markets have been stronger this week vs last for both old and new season cereals. Barley has regained some of its standing, up $14/MT and wheat is up $6/MT. New season canola is marginally higher up $2/MT.

Pictured: A white and red wheat variety near Clarkefield just north of Melbourne. Yield expectations are 4.5MT/ha. Harvest should commence in four weeks.


Prices as at 29th November

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.



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WA Market Update – 30/11/2018

Reid Seaby, Agfarm Regional Manager WA

Harvest had been making slow progress across WA prior to this week but the warmer and drier conditions have allowed things to advance at a more ‘normal’ rate. Albany remains a bit of an exception with some growers finding it relatively slow going in many areas simply due to the lack of warm weather. CBH’s harvest update released last week showed just shy of 5MMT of all grains had been received so far this harvest, approximately one third of the estimated crop. Just over 2MMT was received last week alone so it would be realistic to assume the WA harvest will be about 50% complete by the end of this week.

Barley yields continue to stay at the high end of expectations but some canola yields in the south of the Albany zone have been disappointing. As harvest has moved south the barley quality has seemed to improve with about 50% being delivered as malt quality. It is believed growers are well sold on barley but they continue ‘chip away’ at these levels and it seems to be a similar story with both wheat and canola.

Feed barley markets have been volatile since China announced they would be launching an anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley and as a result there is a perception of greater certainty and stability in wheat markets. It consequently seems growers have moved from being sellers of feed barley to viewing wheat sales as their preferred option. WA wheat prices have recovered this week with APW1 in KWI up $2/MT to $352/MT FIS and 2019/20 APW1 in KWI up $7/MT from last week to climb back over $300/MT FIS. Malt spreads pulled back and as a result, values fell $20/MT from last week to sit at $334/MT FIS in KWI while feed values were essentially unchanged. Canola was also lower, down $4/MT to $572/MT in Kwinana.


Prices as at 29th November 2018

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.


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SA Market Update 30/11/2018

Kate Phillips, Agfarm Regional Manager South Australia

Harvest 18 is becoming more and more like me learning to drive a manual many years ago… bunny hop and stop, bunny hop and stop. This year is similar with headers rolling and then another rain coming through stopping them in their tracks. What looked like a harvest that would wrap up by early December in the areas that got an early start, may well drag out well into December.

The rain up until now has been more a nuisance than anything else but with rain on the forecast for the weekend and late next week we may well start to see impact on quality. The warmer weather over the past few days has seen headers out rolling at pace around the lower mid north region with growers getting through it as fast as possible before the next rain arrives.

As expected tonnes delivered into the system are well down on last year. At the end of last week Viterra had received just over 1.6MMT. This time last year the recievals were sitting at around 2.3MMT. Most areas are still going strong on barley and canola while the central region is pushing well into wheat. Wheat is holding up with a good percentage going hard, while barley is predominantly feed.

Markets were a bit of a mixed bag this week. We are seeing the barley market start to rally with bids of $322/MT and $302/MT respectively for both Port Adelaide track and Port Lincoln track. Wheat has followed suit with APW1 values rising $20/MT Port Adelaide track to end Thursday at $385/MT and Port Lincoln up $10/MT to end Thursday at $355/MT. The delivered market continues to price H2 and SFW1 for November/December delivery with H2 bids at $403/MT and SFW1 $383/MT.

Pictured: Ready for harvest at Freeling SA.


Prices as at 29th November

* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.



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CNSW Market Update – 30/11/2018

Anthony Hall, Agfarm Regional Manager NSW & QLD

Weather this week hasn’t been ideal for harvesting, with most reporting 2-3 day delays due to rain. The heavier falls were in the south of NSW were falls of 25mm plus were common. The northern part of the state only received 5-10mm. It’s worth noting for summer crop opportunity the Liverpool plains area received anywhere from 15mm – 35mm which will allow some to start sowing sorghum. Throughout the cropping belt in QLD only 5-10mm was received, which is disappointing considering the summer crops are in need of a moisture top up. The forecast is showing clear skies and warm weather for the next week, this will allow most to finish off harvest north of the Bogan river.


Wheat markets have come under pressure in the latter half of this week. The spike in last week’s market when some shorts started to appear saw a fair amount of grower selling which in turn softened prices as consumers again sought comfort in their positions. SFW1 delivered Darling Downs (Jan) peaked throughout the week at $435/MT but quickly fell to $430/MT once positions started to fill. With the majority of wheat coming off H2 or better, it has kept the feed consumers searching far and wide to find growers willing to sell 70/10 wheat considering the premium is still there for milling wheat. Most growers are seeking some coverage at these prices which means plenty of wheat is selling off the headers.

In barley markets, the areas with lower production are seeing most growers replenishing their onfarm feed supplies to continue feeding livestock for the next 11 months. So, lack of barley selling and positions needing to be filled has seen markets remain firm off the lows we experienced last week in relation to the Chinese buying concerns. F1 delivered Darling Downs was bid at $415/MT with minimal offers. The border markets continue to trade higher than the Darling Downs with bids of $418/MT at time of writing.

The sorghum market has fallen to $356/MT delivered Darling Downs. There were reports of forward selling in the areas that received good rains over the last two weeks. The jury is still out as to how big this sorghum crop will be. The size is obviously going to be governed by the in crop rain going forward as a lot has already been planted on less than ideal subsoil moisture.

Prices as at 29th Novebemer



* View of current market pricing. Does not represent current Agfarm bids.


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