THERE is the potential for big spreads opening up in the wheat market between high and low protein grain.
This is because of the likely large volumes of lower protein wheat being grown this year and the relative scarcity of Australian Hard (AH) high protein grain.
At present the spreads remain low, with AWB cash prices in Queensland, where harvest is underway, offering just an $8 a tonne differential between AH ($288/t Goondiwindi) and APW ($280t/).
This is because there is still domestic demand to cover shorts before the majority of the Australian winter crop comes online.
Once that happens, however, it is expected this spread could open up.
NSW, often a big producer of high protein wheat, is expected to have its largest volume year for wheat on record.
High yields generally mean lower protein in wheat, so it is more likely the bulk of NSW production will be APW rather than AH.
Further adding to the desire for protein wheat is the La Nina weather event, leading to a high chance of harvest rain.
"Crop quality is something that everyone is watching really closely, the potential for harvest rain could lead to downgraded grain," said James Maxwell, Australian Crop Forecasters.
He said it could easily be a silver lining for Queensland croppers, faced with relatively disappointing yields, if they could achieve hard standard wheat.
"They may be able to get a premium for their hard wheat, especially if it comes in wet further south at harvest," Mr Maxwell said.
"The same applies into northern NSW, where the finish has been that bit drier, bad for yield, but good for protein.
"Further to the south, into central NSW, the season has been very good, so farmers look set to have great yields, but probably lower protein wheat."
Brendan Taylor, AgForce grains section president, said harvest was at close to full swing in southern Queensland.
"People are really looking to get the crop off before there is any rain.
"The yields are not necessarily that great so if we could get hard quality that would be a good way to extract maximum value from the wheat we do take off."
Mr Maxwell said there would be ample feed grain this year, along with potentially cheaper low protein wheat he said there looked like being over 10 million tonnes of barley produced nationally.