December 11, 2003



Australia Canola, Wheat Crops Affected By Cooler Weather


Recently, late rain and cooler temperatures have hit crops through much of in Australian states such as NSW (New South Wales), Victoria and South Australia, affecting quality and yield.


Canola growers in southern NSW are especially feeling the change in conditions, discovering their crops - although much improved on last year - are not as good as they had hoped for a few months ago.


Spokesman for monopoly wheat exporter AWB Ltd Ryan McKinlay said about 50% of the nation's crops had already been harvested.


He said the harvest was now in full swing in southern NSW parts of Victoria, South Australia and the southern areas of Western Australia.


AWB has predicted a wheat crop of between 22 million and 24 million tons, just shy of the record set in the pre-drought 2001-02 season.


Mr McKinlay said at this stage wheat quality was good although cooler conditions in many areas meant the harvest was a little behind schedule.


"The quality is pretty good and the yield is good especially compared to last year," he said.


Last year's total wheat crop was just 10 million ton.


Despite much more rain and slightly cooler temperatures, weather has again been unkind to many farmers.


Besides hurting farm income, last year's drought also affected hundreds of small communities reliant on the rural sector.


Many silos that were employing up to 30 or 40 people for a few weeks lay dormant.


This season harvest silos everywhere are busy while contract harvesters, farm machinery and farm supply sectors are also recording strong business.


The harvest will continue right through Christmas and into the New Year for many farmers in the southern states.

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