AUSTRALIAN wheat production could easily dip below the 20 million tonne mark for the first time since 2007-08, but there are pockets of the country where growers are being pleasantly surprised by yields.
The national forecaster ABARES came out with an estimate of a 20.3 million tonne wheat crop in its most recent crop report, however the research for the figure was conducted prior to flood and frost damage in southern Australia.
ABARES came out with a total crop production figure of 34.9m tonnes, down 41pc.
The damage may be counterbalanced to an extent by better than expected yields, in particular in western Victoria and WA.
In its weekly harvest wrap, Western Australian bulk handler CBH said it had received about 9.22m tonnes as of the end of last week, or 78 per cent of total estimated receivals.
Notably, it has already received 115pc of estimated receivals or 1.36m tonnes in the Geraldton zone.
“This is well over our estimate of 1.2m tonnes,” CBH Geraldton zone manager Duncan Gray said.
“I don’t see us having any problems getting to 1.5m tonnes by end of the week.”
It has been a good year elsewhere in the State, with Esperance farmer Chris Reichstein saying the season had been very strong.
Farmers in Victoria and eastern South Australia are reporting similar slightly better than expected yields, although the rain event earlier in the month may bring yields back a touch for some.
Data to support theses claims is yet to come through, with both Viterra and GrainCorp enduring slower weeks due to rain delays.
Viterra took 535,000t for the week for a total of 3.59m tonnes and GrainCorp received 375,000 tonnes for a total of 3.86mt.
The ABARES figures represent a 4pc drop on its September report.
The production forecast is around the long term average, 2pc lower than the 10-year average to 2015-16.
Production is forecast to fall in 2017–18 for the three major crops: wheat by 42pc, barley by 40pc to 8m tonnes and canola by 31pc to 2.9m tonnes.
ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said the season had altered in most regions since the last report, but on macro level climatic factors cancelled each other out.
“Favourable seasonal conditions during spring have boosted crop prospects in WA but unfavourable conditions across NSW have adversely affected yield prospects,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
Meanwhile, in ABARES’ Agricultural Commodities report, analyst Sarah Smith said world grain prices would remain at the low end of the spectrum in spite of a forecast 11pc lift in values, due to another big production year.
Ms Smith said any price gains would likely be in high quality, high protein grades, where supplies are tighter due to smaller harvests in Australia and Canada and Australian quality concerns following harvest rain.