Australia says wetter weather should boost its upcoming winter crop

Credit: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

By Peter Hobson

CANBERRA, March 5 (Reuters) - Wetter weather should boost Australia's winter wheat production to 28.4 million metric tons in the 2024/25 season from 26 million tons in the harvest that has just finished, the country's agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

Barley and canola production will also increase, the ministry said.

Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of wheat and other farm products and greater output next year will increase global supply.

The recently harvested 2023/24 winter crops were hit early in the growing season by an El Nino weather event that brought with it dry conditions. But summer rains in recent months and a fading El Nino have improved the outlook.

"Good soil moisture bodes well," Emily Dahl, an economist in the agriculture ministry's forecasting division, told the ABARES Outlook 2024 conference in Canberra.

The area planted to winter crops should increase in 2024/25, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales, which were dry for much of 2023, she said, adding that exports in the 2024/25 season would also be above the long term average.

While rains across the country's eastern grain belt have improved planting conditions, there has been dryness in large parts of Western Australia, an industry official said in Jakarta.

"We had some decent summer rains, soil profile in parts of eastern Australia, around Victoria and New South Wales is looking positive," said Pat O'Shannassy, chief executive of industry body Grain Trade Australia.

"Western Australia has had quite a dry summer," he told Reuters on sidelines of an industry conference.

The ministry said it expected barley production to rise to 11.6 million tons in the 2024/25 season from 10.8 million in 2023/24 and for canola output to grow to 6.1 million tons from 5.7 million tons.

Total winter crop production should rise by 9% to 51 million metric tons in 2024/25, the ministry estimates.

Winter crops in Australia are planted from around April and harvested from around October.

Some weather models are predicting that El Nino will not only fade but shift later this year back to a La Nina phenomenon, which typically brings wetter conditions to Australia.

Dahl said this could lift Australian yields further. "There's certainly a lot of upside potential," she said.

The agriculture ministry said on Tuesday that Australia's 2023/24 winter crop was in line with the 10-year average but down 32% from 2022/23, a La Nina year that saw plentiful rain.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral and Dewi Kurniawati in Jakarta; Editing by Michael Perry and Louise Heavens)

((peter.hobson@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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