Hot conditions and low rainfall amounts continue to take their toll on the wheat crop in eastern Australia as the country’s 2018-19 wheat production is forecast at 21 million tonnes, about 12% below the previous estimate, according to a July 10 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA said the wheat harvested area is expected to fall slightly to 12 million hectares.
“Moderate rainfall since May has improved soil moisture for the winter wheat crop, but continued rainfall is essential during the planting window across many regions, especially eastern Australia,” the USDA said.
Wheat is the major winter crop in Australia, with sowing starting between April and July. The crop is harvested between August and January.
If the forecast holds, the size of this year’s crop would be similar to the 2017-18 harvest of 21.2 million tonnes.
Australian wheat exports in 2018-19 are also forecast to remain unchanged at 16,000 tonnes.
“Australia is the world’s third largest wheat exporter, but its exports are expected to face stronger competition from Black Sea wheat traders, especially for feed wheat,” the USDA said.
Barley production is forecast to rise to 9.5 million tonnes in 2018-19 from 8.9 million tonnes the prior season.
“Relatively high prices and stronger Chinese demand are expected to encourage increased plantings and production in 2018-19,” the USDA said.