The U.S. ag attache in Australia says the county is poised to harvest back-to-back record wheat crops. He pegs the 2011-12 crop equal to last year's at 26.0 million metric tons (MMT), with exports expected to climb 3.8% from last season to 19.0 MMT.
However, the attache says a larger wheat crop comes at the expense of barley, with production expected to drop 12% to 8.2 MMT. "The price gap between barley and wheat has been sustained over the course of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, supporting the competitiveness of wheat over barley as a planting option," says the attache. "Additionally, the ending of the drought in December 2010 further diminished the relative value of barley as a planting option. These factors have supported record wheat numbers, while barley forecasts remain below their long-term averages."
The attache says growing conditions across Australia were generally drier-than-wanted during the 2011-12 winter cereal season (May-November), particularly in eastern Australia. "However, last year’s heavy rainfall in eastern Australia provided a buffer to this year’s drier conditions and allowed for average to above-average yields despite the sub-optimal in-crop rainfall," it states, adding recent rains have helped to finish the crop.
However, it warns that if the forecast from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is correct, late-season above-normal rains could damage late-harvested wheat -- similar to what happened last year.