October 18, 2010
Western Australia wheat crop forecast drops to 3.9 million tonnes
Production from a drought-affected wheat crop in Western Australia was revised sharply lower on Friday (Oct 15) to 3.93 million metric tonnes, down 28% from an estimate a month earlier of 5.49 million tonnes, the state's Grain Industry Association said.
The new forecast would be less than half of the actual 8.25 million tonnes produced in the last crop year to March 31, 2010.
"The total state yield estimate has declined further with no significant rain over most of the wheatbelt during September. The 2010 harvest for Western Australia is predicted to be the lowest in 40 years," the association said.
Western Australia historically averages about 40% of national output and is usually a major supplier to the global trade as its domestic market is small. But the most recent private sector forecast for national wheat production this crop year of 23.9 million tonnes, issued Thursday by commodity analyst and information provider Profarmer Australia, suggests that the state will generate just 16% of national output.
While the wheat crop's yield potential is known to be poor, what isn't known is the quality of the grain, the association said. Protein levels in wheat are likely to be high but the light weight and small pinched size of some grain due to drought may cause issues for end users, they said.
A forecast for new-crop rapeseed output was cut 20% to 773,000 tonnes, or down 21% from last year.
However, while production is way down in the west, Australia's eastern states and South Australia are experiencing bumper seasons. The wheat crop in New South Wales, where the harvest starts later this month, is expected by the industry to be the biggest ever, though the likelihood of rains during the harvest has raised concerns about grain quality.
Profarmer Australia raised its forecast for Australian wheat production this crop year by 450,000 tonnes from last month's estimate, following good rains across the eastern states in September.
Profarmer's estimate is near other recent forecasts by industry participants and analysts. Actual output last crop year was 21.7 million tonnes, of which about two thirds was available for export after domestic demand of seven million tonnes was met.