Australia nudged higher its forecast for wheat production
this year, but cut its forecast for output of the likes of barley, canola and
oats, in a report which flagged a clamour for chickpeas, besides dryness
The official Abares crop bureau pegged at 24.19m tonnes its
forecast for the Australian wheat harvest this year - an upgrade of 214,000
tonnes, although a figure still below last year's record 35.11m tonne
crop, which was boosted by near-ideal growing conditions.
However, the bureau downgraded by 373,000 tonnes to 3.32m
tonnes the forecast for the canola harvest, putting it further behind last year's
crop, which was also elevated by bumper yields
Canola sowings were still seen rising this year, encouraged
by relatively firm prices compared with those of grains, but with the seedings
estimate trimmed by some 150,000 hectares.
And the bureau cut forecasts for crops such as barley, field
peas and oats too, with the barley output figure downgraded by nearly 400,000
Abares noted the dry conditions which Nidera Australia
warned last week had curtailed sowings prospects for canola, which has a
relatively early sowings window.
While rainfall was "generally well above average in cropping
regions" in March in Queensland and New South Wales, typically the
second-ranked wheat-growing state, precipitation fell "below average" there
In Western Australia, the top wheat-growing state, "autumn
rainfall was below average in most cropping regions… which led to unfavourable
planting conditions during autumn and early winter".
Meanwhile, official meteorologists see winter rainfall as "likely
to be below average in most cropping regions".
On the pulse
However, the bureau's forecasts also flagged the enhanced
attraction of chickpeas to growers, amid prices buoyed by demand from India,
where logistical issues have been blamed for hampering the distribution of a
larger domestic crop to southern consumers.
The Indian harvest has been pegged at 9.1m tonnes, a rise of
2.0m tonnes year on year, and recovering from successive years of
New South Wales-based crop merchant AgVantage said that
while the Australian chickpea market has "quietened down since the commencement
of Ramadan", prices as delivered to Narrabri "still remain positive with bids
at Aus$1,050 for current crop and 2017-18 crop bid around Aus$810".
Abares said that in both New South Wales and Queensland, the
top chickpea-growing states, sowings would rise to record highs, "in response
to higher expected returns compared to cereal crops", with growers favouring
the pulse to the extent of ignoring best agronomic practice.
The rise in chickpea sowings comes "despite concerns about
the risk of disease posed by not strictly following recommended crop rotations",
the bureau said.
Abares lifted by 320,000 hectares to 1.10m hectares, its
forecast for Australia's chickpea sowings for 2017-18 – a figure up from just
425,000 hectares in 2014-15.
The harvest forecast was upgraded by 470,000 tonnes to 1.42m
The estimate for the 2016-17 crop was also hiked, by nearly
450,000 tonnes to 1.85m tonnes, on ideas that sowings had far exceeded previous