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Australia's ABARE forecasts near record winter grain harvest
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Australian's winter crop production is forecast to be nearly 37.6 million tonnes in 2003-04, 82.5% higher than last season's drought-affected crop of 20.6 million tonnes, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The forecast huge size of the 2003-04 crop also would be second only to the 39.3-million-tonne harvest of 2001-02, said ABARE Executive Director Brian Fisher when releasing the December issue of the Australian Crop Report.

Compared with the drought-affected 2002-03 crop, wheat production is forecast to rise by 138% to around 23.9 million tonnes, barley by 109% to 7.7 million tonnes, canola by 68% to 1.4 million tonnes, and pulses by 81% to 2.1 million tonnes.

Although the production estimate for the total Australian winter crop for 2003-04 is up on the forecast made in September, production outcomes by state have changed considerably.

"Western Australia has experienced a dramatic turnaround from last year's drought, with total grain production forecast to be a record 14.4 million tonnes," Fisher said. "Similarly, production in Victoria and South Australia is also expected to be up significantly, reaching 5.8 million and 7.4 million tonnes respectively, their second biggest crops on record."

Winter crop production in New South Wales, although forecast to be considerably larger than last year, is expected to be lower than was forecast in September. Total winter grain production is estimated to be up by 138% to 7.9 million tonnes.

Dry weather, frost and disease and rain and hail late in the season all contributed to the New South Wales crop falling well short of its potential.

With harvest near completion, Queensland winter crop production is estimated to be 1.3 million tonnes, up 60% from last year.

Fisher noted that although production had turned around dramatically from last year, there was some damage to crops, particularly in New South Wales, Queensland and to a lesser extent in Victoria and South Australia, from hot dry winds in September and isolated pockets of frost and disease during October and early November.

"Some crops in the southern regions of Australia have also recently suffered from rain and hail damage, which is likely to adversely affect final yields and grain quality," he said.'

Recent rainfall across much of the summer cropping areas is expected to be beneficial for the sowing and establishment of summer crops in 2003-04.

The total summer crop area is forecast to rise by 19% to 1.3 million hectares in 2003-04. The increase is despite shortages of irrigation water, which have constrained plantings of cotton and rice in 2003-04'

"Given average seasonal conditions and yields, summer crop production in 2003-04 is forecast to increase by 30% to 3.7 million tonnes," Fisher said.
MGR Archive 3.12.2003
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