Barenbrug International Update - December 2018

By Colin Grant


At the time of writing this, we have started our 2018/19 harvest. Overall production will be down for most species as a result of drought conditions, as well as attractive hay prices providing a more cost-effective option for growers. Buyer activity has been subdued in the past months, but we are now starting to see some activity in various regions.


European market has had steady demand for Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) to the point we are now awaiting new crop to fulfil demand. Trade in annual clovers has started to pick up, particularly with Persian and Balansa clover. It is worth pointing out that new season crop of both Balansa and Persian will be reduced significantly, so placing your orders earlier will be of benefit. Sub-Clover supplies are also going to be tight as domestic demand will continue to drive price and consumption.


The Alfalfa market has been very depressed for the past six months, but we are starting to see some signs of recovery. Inventory supplies of highly winter active types have been decreasing as hay prices in the US continue to strengthen and consumption increases for export hay. The Mexican market is also continuing to move good volumes of seed. South America still has carry stocks, however, we are starting to see some positive signs of recovery. We have also seen some activity in the MENA region and given that estimates have the Australian crop back by 40% on average, prices are expected to firm.


Currently most commodity alfalfa varieties such as Aurora and Siriver are all but exhausted. Limited quantities of SARDI 10 series II and Alfamaster 10 are still available, but I strongly encourage buyers to contact us about your needs sooner rather than later.


Rhodes Grass (Chloris gayana) sales to Saudi Arabia have been strong and steady over the past 6 months as buyers look for alternatives to Alfalfa, but buyers must keep in mind that while Rhodes Grass is more water use efficient than Alflafa, digestibly and feed conversion is not as good so there will be a production penalty in meat and milk output.


The White Clover market is somewhat subdued now given China has bought a lot of seed from the USA at low prices whom still have some stock. Production ex South America will be interesting as main regions have had drought, frost and floods so we won’t really know what effect this will have on yields.  Production in New Zealand appears to be around average at this stage, but Australian tonnage is expected to be below last year and this will keep pricing expectations firm for Haifa.


As always, we look forward to hearing from you and look forward to speaking with you again after the festive season. Have a great Christmas.