October 8, 2008

Australia's Victoria wheat crops could fail without rain

Many winter crops including wheat in the northern half of Australia's Victoria state could fail without heavy rainfall in coming weeks, said De-Anne Price, an agronomist with the state's Department of Primary Industries.

"If we don't get another rain, they're not going to finish," she said of crops in the state's northwest Mallee and northern areas of the western Wimmera district, where crops have also been stressed by hot and windy weather.

In the Mallee, many crops already have been cut for hay though some don't have enough dry matter to make much hay anyway, she said by telephone from the department's offices at Horsham town in Wimmera district.

South of Horsham, crops look good and many could make average yield at harvest in December if they receive rain, but north of Horsham crops really start to dry off, including in many southern and southwestern areas in New South Wales, she said.

Price was commenting after the department issued "The Break" monthly crop report, which noted that most districts in Victoria received rainfall in September in the lowest 20 percent of historical averages.

"Let's hope we do get substantial rainfall sooner rather than later to take the growing season through to the end," according to the report, which didn't include production forecasts.

In mid-September, the government's Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics forecast production from the new wheat crop in Victoria at 2.7 million metric tonnes in national production of 22.5 million tonnes, up from last year's state output of 1.9 million tonnes in a national crop of 13.0 million tonnes.

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