While hopes were high coming into 2014 for a reversal of fortunes for the drought withered regions of Queensland and NSW, the first few weeks of 2014 have been very disappointing. Overall cattle markets have started 2014 slightly weaker than where they finished 2013, with demand from restockers still restricted by the very poor season, while the lamb market has been steady.
With drought plagued producers throughout Queensland and the NT anxiously awaiting the onset of the wet season, it has been an overall weak start from a cattle industry context. While producers in northern regions will have welcomed heavier falls, with some very heavy falls across the Top End, the spread further south of any major systems has not occurred, with the exception of a system that delivered patchy falls in the second week of January. Indeed, while some parts of Queensland registered their first decent falls in several months last week, the extent and breadth of the drought dictates that much, much more rain will be required to improve the seasonal outlook.
Across NSW and the southern states, this week’s heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, will continue to deteriorate pastures and water supplies – especially in the western regions of NSW. A continuation of these conditions will see stock numbers continue to flow, although producers will be conscious of moving stock in the searing temperatures.
The immediate forecast for the next week favours very wet conditions for the north western parts of the continent, fed by the expansion south of the current trough drenching the northern quarter of the NT. For eastern Australia, especially Queensland, the rainfall activity looks to be very patchy, with drought relieving falls not on the radar.