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Australia - Light rain cuts wheat forecast
The Australian, May 12, 2004
Forecasts for this year's Australian wheat harvest have been scaled back because of the lack of sufficient rain for planting crops.

Sector analysts Australian Wheat Forecasters have cut their prediction for the 2004-05 crop to 27.2 million tonnes, down from last month's forecast for 27.5 million tonnes.

The revised forecast would still represent a rise of almost 9 per cent from the previous year's crop -- a record 25 million tonnes.

The news followed monopoly wheat exporter AWB's decision to increase its estimated grower returns for the 2004-05 harvest by $5 per tonne, because of the effect of the weakening Australian dollar on export prices.
AWB boosted the estimated price it would pay for Australian Premium White grade wheat to between $210 and $220 a tonne.

AWF managing director Brian Bailey said expectations had been rolled back in Queensland and Western Australia but remained mostly steady in other states.

"There are some areas in Queensland that have soil moisture but didn't get enough rain to sow crops -- they had 7mm or 8mm only," he said.

Some farmers in the affected areas were expected to plant chickpeas instead of wheat, as they could be planted later in the season and required less moisture.

Planting and land preparation was well under way in NSW, with good soil moisture in the northern part of the state. However, some areas in the south were "bone dry" and could lead to further reductions in the yield forecast if rains did not arrive by July, he said.

Victorian and South Australian farmers had maintained planting intentions despite a lack of rain in the main growing areas, Mr Bailey said.

Planting is typically concentrated around June and July, while harvesting is expected to commence in September, starting in Queensland and moving south through the other states to finish in early January.
MGR Archive 12.5.2004
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