July 19, 2011


Rains put Australian rapeseed on course for 15-year high



Rains in the top producing state have put Australia's rapeseed harvest on course for a 15-year high even as the major exporter of the oilseed struggles to get shot of some of last year's crop.


The Australian Oilseeds Federation hiked by 140,000 tonnes to 2.59 million tonnes its forecast for the country's harvest of the rapeseed variant, citing rains which have "served to significantly increase" yield prospects in Western Australia.


Development of rapeseed crops in the state, historically responsible for about one-half of national output, "is up to two weeks ahead of expectations, with the warmer conditions and moisture bonus driving the crops ahead".


And prospects have increased for other states too, including Victoria, which has already received rains, and New South Wales, where the failure of some lupin crops encouraged late rapeseed sowings.


At 2.59 million tonnes, the crop would be Australia's biggest for 15 years, and be worth nearly AUD$1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion), at current prices, the federation said.


The harvest would also be 20% higher than last year's, and 310,000 tonnes higher than analysts at Abares, the official commodities bureau, are forecasting.


Yet, in Western Australia, none of the 49,000 tonnes of genetically modified rapeseed left over from the last harvest has yet been sold, the state acknowledged.


The failure to shift the crop has been linked by some observers to the fuss over biotech crops.


However, the state's farm ministry on Monday attributed the dearth of buyers to the crop's low oil content and, with this being the first crop, the lack of better-quality supplies to mix it with.


"Because of the low volume of genetically-modified rapeseed grown in Western Australia in 2010 there is not enough high oil content genetically-modified rapeseed to blend with low oil content genetically-modified rapeseed, thus making a sale more difficult," a spokesperson for Terry Redman, Western Australia's farm minister, said.

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