CANBERRA (Dow Jones) — Australia can look forward to another bumper year for winter crops with high prices and excellent soil moisture levels in most growing areas likely to push plantings to near record levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s foreign agriculture service said in a report issued late Friday.
Wheat production in the 2011-12 crop year that started Friday is projected at 25.5 million metric tons, unchanged from a revised estimate for last crop year, with a significant increase in the area planted this year likely to be balanced by a return to normal yields, the USDA reported.
Australia’s chief commodities forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, said a month ago that it expects 2011-12 wheat output of 24.26 million tons, down a record 26.33 million tons in the crop year that ended Thursday. Plantings of 13.81 million hectares this year are up from 13.37 million hectares last crop year.
After annual domestic consumption of around 6.0 million tons is met, the balance of production is available for export, usually making Australia one of the world’s top wheat exporters.
The USDA estimated that wheat plantings this crop year will expand to 13.8 million hectares from an actual 13.35 million hectares, falling just short of record plantings in 2009-10 of 14.03 million hectares.
Pre-planting soil moisture levels in some areas in eastern Australia are at their highest since 1974, while in other areas soil moisture might have reached record levels, it said.
Wheat exports in the shipping year ending Sept. 30, 2012, is forecast by the USDA at 14.0 million tons, down from a revised estimate for this year of 15.0 million tons, which was raised in line with higher-than-expected shipments in the October-January period, the USDA reported.
Industry sources expect high monthly export levels to continue through May, with the 2010-11 crop experiencing “almost unprecedented export demand, particularly for weather-damaged wheat, and this has resulted in unusually high export volumes,” the USDA said.
Strong demand for 2010-11 crop exports will partially constrain growth in domestic consumption and growth in closing inventories, though domestic consumption is expected to reach above average levels, it said.
Source: Dow Jones
Posted by Haylie Shipp