MORE commodity analysts have come out and cut their forecasts for the Australian winter crop, with the National Australia Bank (NAB) predicting the smallest wheat crop in a decade.
NAB agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell said the latest NAB estimate was for an 18.7 million tonne wheat crop, down 47 per cent year on year.
The figure is also the lowest since 2006-07 nationally.
Mr Ziebell said the well documented woes in NSW were the major driver of the cut.
“One of the biggest drops in wheat production will come from New South Wales, which has suffered from very low rainfall, frosts and heatwaves in the space of a single season,” Mr Ziebell said.
Rural Bank have also cut its wheat production forecast, although its outlook is more optimistic, pointing to a 22mt wheat crop, 35pc down year on year.
Andrew Smith, general manager of agribusiness at Rural Bank said along with the lower average yields caused by the drought there had also been lower plantings, with croppers electing not to plant in areas such as north-west NSW and to a lesser extent on the Eyre Peninsula in SA which had a late start to the season.
Mr Smith said the forecast 22mt crop would be 14pc down on the five year average.
In terms of bright spots, Mr Smith nominated Victoria, where he said he expected areas like the Mallee and Wimmera to record yields slightly above average, although yield potential has declined with a relatively dry spring in that area.
Western Australia has also emerged as an unlikely good news story.
After entering the second half of the year in extremely poor condition in many cropping regions, Western Australia’s grain belt has enjoyed late winter and spring.
CBH general manager of operations David Capper said his organisation had revised up its crop estimates due to the good spring rainfall.
“Early estimates had indicated that CBH Group would receive a well below average crop pegged at between 9.5 and 10 million tonnes,” Mr Capper said.
“However the conditions through August and September have significantly improved the crop and, while still below average, the crop is now likely to be in the 11 to 12 million tonne range,” he said.
In terms of canola, Mr Smith said Rural Bank forecast a 3.1mt crop, 16pc down on the five year average in spite of a rise in planted area, due to poor yield potential.
Mr Smith said international factors and high carryover would contrive to keep a lid on any potential price rises as a result of the domestic shortfall.
“Despite lower crop production in Australia, high ending stocks overseas mean that the likelihood of a large rise in prices in the short to medium term is unlikely,” he said.
Meanwhile, harvest is running into rain delays in northern NSW.
Moree farmer Oscar Pearse said there was a significant amount of crop nearly ready to harvest.
“I would expect that within ten days to a fortnight we will be right in the swing of harvest, weather permitting,” he said.
Mr Pearse said he had received patchy falls of between 75-105mm over his farm in recent weeks, but said it was likely to be of limited use to the winter crop.
“Crops are already too far through for it to be of much benefit,” he said.