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Despite Ideal Planting Conditions, Australian Wheat Expected to Decline

28 March 2012
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

AUSTRALIA - Despite near ideal planting conditions for the 2012/13 crop, area planted to wheat and barley is expected to decline relative to last year as growers shift production into canola in response to more remunerative prices.

In the lead-up to the 2012/13 winter cereal (wheat and barley) cropping season, Australia has experienced widespread rainfall, and in the case of key eastern Australian cropping areas, record flooding.

Consequently, growers in eastern Australia are expecting a full profile of moisture at the time of planting for the 2012/13 winter cereal crop. 2012/13 production of wheat is forecast at 27.0 million metric tons (MMT) and barley production at 8.0 MMT.

Prospects for planting the 2012/13 summer crop (year begin in March 2013) are also excellent as irrigation water storages are currently full, with enough “carryover” water in the system for the next summer crop (sorghum and rice).

At the time of the writing of this report, excellent soil moisture and irrigation water outlook should more than adequately offset the poorer price outlook for grains. 2012/13 production of sorghum is forecast at 2.5 MMT and rice production at 1.0 MMT.

As was the case during the harvest of the 2011/12 winter cereal (wheat and barley), harvest of the 2011/12 summer crop (sorghum and rice) is expected to be somewhat tempered by wet weather conditions. Despite a wet growing season up to the time of harvest, and potential difficulties at harvest, 2011/12 production of summer crops is projected to be up relative to last year, with sorghum production estimated at 2.65 MMT and rice at 924,000 MT.

The outlook for the forecast period looks excellent for all crops; however there are challenges in determining which crops growers will choose to plant.

Planted area for wheat and barley are projected to decline somewhat while area planted to sorghum and rice is forecast to increase. Canola and cotton are not covered by this report however increased canola planting will likely displace some winter cereal planting, while another large cotton crop will likely limit planting in sorghum and, to a lesser extent, rice.

Recent declines in feed grain prices have eroded returns received by growers. This is true for all grains, but more so for feed quality grain, where the situation is exacerbated by a larger proportion of feed quality grain currently in domestic storage.

Recent trade data suggest, however, that export tonnages for the period December to January 2011 are running at or near record levels, and this (aided by an upward revision in supply) has led Post to revise our export estimates for some crops upwards. Post will continue to monitor the trade situation with interest.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

March 2012

TheCropSite News Desk

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