By Jason Scott – Oct 1, 2010 10:25 AM GMT+0500
Wheat output in Western Australia, the nation’s largest growing-state, may drop 45 percent from last season because of inadequate rain, a farmers’ group said.
“A lot of people have virtually come to the conclusion that the rain season is done,” Mike Norton president of the Western Australian Farmers Federation, said today by phone. “Farmers aren’t very happy. It’s not looking very good.”
While above-normal rain in the nation’s east has boosted forecasts for the nation’s total production, dryness has eroded crop prospects in the west. The state’s wheat harvest may be 4.473 million metric tons, with production of all grains in the state forecast at 7.6 million tons, the Perth-based Grain Industry Association of Western Australia said in a report dated Sept. 17.
“It’s difficult to forecast but 4.47 million tons sounds like a reasonable prediction,” Norton said. Output may reach 5 million tons, he said.
The state harvested 8.2 million tons last season, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics- Bureau of Rural Sciences.
Australia’s production of the grain may total 23.8 million tons, National Australia Bank Ltd. forecast Sept. 29. Risks to the outlook included damage from locusts and mice, excess rain in the east and possible crop downgrades in the west, it said.
Harvesting in Western Australia will start this month and may continue to early January.
Wheat for December delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade declined 0.3 percent to $6.72 a bushel at 9:31 a.m. Singapore time. The contract advanced 42 percent in the third quarter, the best performance in three years.
Western Australia’s wheat-growing regions didn’t receive significant showers in the past week, Patrick Ward, a Perth- based meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said today.
No rain is forecast for the area in the next week, said Adam Conroy, a Perth-based forecaster at the bureau. Later next week, temperatures in the region will rise to as much as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), potentially putting stress on crops, he said.
Western Australia’s southwest, the state’s most populous region which includes the capital Perth, today imposed tougher water restrictions for homeowners after a dry winter, Water Minister Graham Jacobs said in an e-mailed statement today.
“We have just come through our second-driest winter on record, continuing dry weather through September and the lowest run off into the dams since 1913,” Jacobs said.
New South Wales, this season set to surpass Western Australia as the top producing state, was expected to this week begin spraying more than 60,000 hectares (148,263 acres) for locusts, a government statement said.
Surveys in the Bourke, Walgett and Brewarrina regions had spotted more than 700 locust bands stretching up to 1.5 kilometers in length, Industry & Investment NSW said.
Government agencies and farmers plan to spray locusts after they hatch and before they can fly to protect crops and pastures from an infestation forecast to be the largest in decades.
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To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@Bloomberg.net.