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Australia grain: harvest starts on big wheat crop
SYDNEY ,Australia's grains are back in the money after good rains over the past month set up a bumper wheat crop at good world prices.
Wheat production of more than 23 million tonnes is now almost in the bin for the April/March 2003/04 year, consolidating Australia's status as the second biggest exporter after the United States.
This would be not far short of record Australian production of 24.9 million tonnes in 2001/02 and more than double last season's drought-affected 9.4 million tonnes.
Private forecaster Australian Wheat Forecasters have the wheat crop at 23.56 million tonnes, while the United States Department of Agriculture is forecasting 23 million tonnes.
Monopoly wheat exporter AWB Ltd upgraded its own forecast to 22-24 million tonnes from 20-22 million tonnes late on Friday, after a spokesman said the company was "constantly monitoring" its numbers.
This leaves Australia official government forecaster the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) yet to catch up with increased forecasts.
ABARE will update its forecast of 21.7 million tonnes on September 9. As harvesting begins on early crops in tropical central Queensland, big bucks are sure to roll in from the current export crop compared with last season's miserable performance.
Last year, drought forced Australia to draw down six million tonnes from wheat stocks to export about nine million.
The new crop will allow exports to rebound to around 16 million tonnes, which, as world prices also rise, would boost export income to around A$4 billion ($2.6 billion).
A collapse in wheat exports in 2002/03 dragged export income back to less than A$3 billion, according to ABARE.
This was a significant factor in an A$831 million fall to A$5.3 billion in Australia's exports of rural goods in the June quarter, contributing to the record blowouts in the country's current account deficit.
In June, ABARE predicted Australia's 2003/04 wheat crop, which was then forecast at 21.7 million tonnes, would produce exports of 13.8 million tonnes, worth A$3.4 billion at a pool price for Australian Premium White (APW) grade at A$207 a tonne.
Above average August rains had produced the prospect of a record crop in Western Australia and the best possible outlook in New South Wales and Victoria states, National farmers Federation President Peter Cornish said this week.
Much of the grain had been planted into dry soil on hopes of rain, which came just in time.
MGR Archive 1.9.2003
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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