NSW expected to produce a canola surplus of 400,000 tonnes

Simon Moloney with his ATR Gem canola crop planted on April 24. Australia's canola production is expected to rise by 47 per cent this year.
Simon Moloney with his ATR Gem canola crop planted on April 24. Australia's canola production is expected to rise by 47 per cent this year.

Canola has been a direct route to heartbreak for many NSW growers over the past two years, drought and frost damage forcing the state's crushers to look elsewhere to fill their orders.

But, this year upwards of 800,000 tonnes is expected to be harvested across the state, a stark difference to the roughly 170,000t delivered last year.

Nationally, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) predicts canola production will rise by 47 per cent to 3.4 million tonnes, four per cent above the 10-year average.

Australian Oilseeds Federation executive officer Nick Goddard said for the past two years there had been virtually no crops grown in the northern part of the state, while in the south a lot of canola was cut for hay.

"The result was that the major crushers in NSW had to import grain from South Australia or Western Australia," Mr Goddard said.

However, he said this year good looking crops, high prices (about $560/t) and solid domestic demand should lead to a surplus.

"Once we satisfy the east coast domestic demand of roughly a million tonnes, we could be looking at up to 400,000 tonne excess which could be exported," Mr Goddard said.

Growers are beginning to look to the skies for another rain as crops begin to dry off.

Growers are beginning to look to the skies for another rain as crops begin to dry off.

Australia's number one export destination is Europe, usually supplied by South Australia and Western Australia, but NSW could also look to China and Japan with the surplus.

The headers aren't rolling out of the sheds yet however, with some of the crops starting to dry out.

"They got off to a great start and were well fed throughout the season, but there's no immediate prospect of rain, so as the crops come into seed and pod development they will draw on the last of their moisture reserves," Mr Goddard said.

"We will need to get some spring rains to help develop the oil content in the seed."

Simon Moloney, north-east of Wagga, has in 1000 hectares of ATR Gem canola.

"We are in a better position than last year, but not by a great deal. We had good rain until the second week of August last year and it didn't rain from then on," he said.

Mr Moloney said the price offered for canola this year was attractive, however the recent years of low production were still too fresh to consider forward contracting earlier in the season.

Riverina Oils and Bio Energy seed merchant Britt Golder said others had been keen to lock in early.

"Forward selling has been significant this year, especially at the peak of COVID-19, when the Australian dollar was sitting around 55 cents," Ms Golder said.

"It made our canola price really strong and attracted a lot of forward selling."