Bloomberg News

Eastern Australia Needs Rain to Boost Wheat Production

May 22, 2012

Eastern parts of Australia, the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter, need more rain to spur plantings and boost the production outlook, according to GrainCorp Ltd. (GNC), the region’s largest handler.

“We’re well advanced on planting on the east coast but definitely still looking for rain in most parts,” Chief Executive Officer Alison Watkins said on a conference call today. “Everyone’s looking for those planting rains.”

Most of eastern New South Wales, the second-biggest grower, may get 15 millimeters (0.6 inches) to 50 millimeters of rain in the eight days to May 29, with some areas set to receive as much as 100 millimeters, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Showers may help Australia meet its official forecast of 25.7 million metric tons this season, increasing global supplies.

“Some good planting rains happening over the next few weeks, we hope, should augur for another good crop out of Australia,” Watkins said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The company may ship 10 million tons of grain in the year to Sept. 30 with stockpiles totaling 4.5 million tons, she said.

“Planting progress has slowed, yet it remains far too early in the season to become materially concerned,” Luke Mathews, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), wrote in a note on May 18.

The wheat harvest is set to drop 13 percent from a year earlier to 25.7 million tons as the area declines, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said March 6. Output was a record 29.5 million tons last season, it said.

In Western Australia, below-average rainfall in April and a forecast for further dry conditions may curb crop planting in the nation’s biggest wheat and canola grower, CBH Group, the state’s largest grain handler, said May 14. No rain is forecast for Western Australia’s main grain-growing region in the eight days to May 29, according to the weather bureau.

Australia is the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter after the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net


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