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Australia's Winter Crop Outlook Indicates Lower Harvests Amid Drier Conditions

5 Jun 2023 9:53 pm
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New Delhi, 5 June (Commoditiescontrol): In a new report released by Rabobank, it has been revealed that Australia is expected to plant approximately 23.48 million hectares of winter crops for the upcoming season. This represents a modest increase of 0.3% compared to the previous season and a significant 5% above the five-year average. However, despite the expanded planting area, experts anticipate that drier conditions associated with the transition to an El Niño climate cycle will have a substantial impact on harvest totals, potentially lowering them from the recent record years.

The "2023-24 Australian Winter Crop Outlook" by Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group projects an increase in the planted area for wheat, barley, and pulses compared to the previous year, while canola planting is expected to decline. Wheat, the country's primary winter crop, is projected to witness a 2.9% increase, reaching 13.44 million hectares, which is 11.5% above the five-year average. Barley, on the other hand, is expected to experience a smaller growth of 1.3% to reach 4.27 million hectares, but this would still be 10.4% lower than its five-year average. The area dedicated to pulses is anticipated to rise to 1.77 million hectares, representing an 8.4% decrease compared to the five-year average. Unfortunately, the report indicates a downward trend for canola planting, with a projected decrease of 8.4% from the previous season, resulting in 3.32 million hectares. Despite this decline, canola planting would still be 21% above the five-year average. Based on normal seasonal rainfall patterns, the report estimates that wheat production for the 2023-24 season could reach 29.9 million tonnes, marking a significant 24% decrease from the previous year. Barley production is also projected to decline by 24% to 10.8 million tonnes, while canola production is expected to drop by 35% to 5.4 million tonnes. Edward McGeoch, the co-author of the report and associate analyst at Rabobank, emphasized that Australia has experienced three consecutive years of high rainfall and favorable growing conditions, resulting in strong or record-breaking grain and oilseed production. However, with the transition to drier seasonal conditions, it is clear that Australia's harvest volumes will decrease in the upcoming year. McGeoch further warned that climate models indicate a shift towards weak El Niño conditions, which could potentially lead to even lower production levels. He cautioned that there is a possibility of the upcoming harvest being the lowest in four years, with a total crop estimated at 41.2 million tonnes. Despite the anticipated challenges, Rabobank's base export forecast predicts that 15.7 million tonnes of wheat, excluding carryover stock from the previous year, will be exported to overseas markets due to sustained global demand. Barley exports are expected to reach 3.3 million tonnes, while canola exports are projected at 3.4 million tonnes. The report highlights that export opportunities for Australia's winter crop in Southeast Asia, a key market, are expected to remain strong, with favorable freight charges returning to 2020 levels. "While Australia's harvest potential for the upcoming season is expected to be below the recent consecutive bumper harvests, it could still be a decent total," stated the Rabobank report. Australia remains well positioned to support global wheat needs in 2023-24, despite the projected lower harvests. (By Commoditiescontrol Bureau; +91-9820130172)

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