Recent rains lead to bigger wheat crop

From The Land

The area sown to wheat is set to fall, according to ABARE, down to 13.5 million hectares, but yields are set to rise 3pc to 22 million tonnes.

It is a figure borne out by other estimates.

Despite some areas missing out on the April and June rains, NAB Agribusiness has increased its production estimates for the 2009-10 winter crop in the June Commodities Wrap, with wheat now expected to reach 22.6 million tonnes, slightly higher than the ABARE figures.

The positive numbers are in spite of recent discouraging long term forecasts.

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported a rapidly falling Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) linked to the return of a traditionally dry El Nino event across eastern Australia, while the Indian Ocean Dipole is in positive territory, which is also a negative driver for rainfall in Australian cropping belts.

ABARE predicts the acreage of the other major cereal, barley, will also decrease, although production is expected to be up a healthy 13pc to 7.7 million tonnes on the back of better yields.

The major change in plantings is expected to be a significant rise in canola plantings, perhaps as a rotational requirement after years of safety first cereal rotations.

The ABARE predictions are for a 9pc drop in canola yields, however, due to a forecast for a decline in WA production this year.

The forecaster is flagging a 1.7 million tonne canola crop this year, which is right in line with Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) numbers.

In terms of likelihood of exceeding average yields, the torrent of rain that has fallen through north-west NSW means there is a close to 100pc chance of farmers there getting a better than average harvest, a figure that declines to 10-20pc in the parched Riverina in the south of the state.

In Victoria and South Australia the odds are leaning towards a below average season, although there are parts of SA with good potential, while WA is wildly varied, ranging from a 10pc to 100pc chance of getting above long-term median yields.

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