Some of the first official data on Australian winter crops
since they established, for South Australia, has underlined expectations for a
stronger-than-forecast wheat harvest, but highlighted canola losses to disease.
South Australia's wheat crop will come in at 4.64m tonnes, according
to farm officials in the state, the country's third-ranked producer after
Western Australia and New Zealand.
While down 336,000 tonnes year on year, a result at that
level would be better than the 4.36m tonnes forecast by the official Abares
commodities bureau in June.
And it reflects benign conditions which have left South
Australia with "high levels of stored soil moisture", supporting "above average"
yield expectations for most of the state.
"Early sowings, combined with mild conditions during May and
early June, enabled crops to grow rapidly in most areas of the state, and many
crops are two to three weeks ahead of normal crop development," officials in the
state's government said.
'Started very well'
The estimate tallies with talk from analysts of a strong South
Australian crop, with Australia & New Zealand Bank saying last week that "the
wheat crop in the south of Australia has the potential for above-average
Crops in the area "have benefited from not only an
exceptional start to the season, but rainfall in July still near long-term
National Australia Bank said that its bankers "report that
the season has started very well" in the state, as well as in Western
NAB forecast a fall of only 1.0m tonnes in Australian wheat
production this year, from the 27.0m tonnes recorded for 2013-14, while Abares
foresees a 2.43m-tonne drop.
'Hard to find a real
Separately, grain handler CBH Group said last week that the Western
Australia crop is likely to hit 9.4m tonnes, 1.0m tonnes above the Abares
Meanwhile, broker Pentag Nidera said that, excluding the
continued drought in northern New South Wales and Queensland, "it is hard to find
a real problem with our own winter crop despite the El Nino chatter."
El Ninos typically bring dry weather to eastern Australia,
much of which has indeed seen low rainfall, although the chances of the weather
pattern setting in short term have decreased, according to official Australian
"Even some of our moisture deficit areas still have time to
save some production respectability, with crops pretty much 'sitting still'
under mid-winter conditions," Pentag said.
However, the report from the South Australia government did
highlight the threat to the state's canola crop from beet western yellows virus,
which is carried by aphids.
"Green peach aphids were often not controlled due to
resistance to the commonly used insecticides," and transmission rates of the
virus are high, at 97%.
The officials estimated the South Australia canola crop at 334,500
tonnes, below the Abares forecast of 3.47m tonnes, and the state's weakest
result in four years.