The West

24pc  drop in wheat harvest forcast
WA wheat farmer John Nicoletti on his Westonia property.

Wheat production is forecast to be around 24 per cent lower this year as dry conditions in WA take their toll, the government's commodity forecaster says.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) expects wheat production will be 22.5 million tonnes in 2012/13, down from the previous year's record output.

The overall winter crop production is projected at 36.2 million tonnes, which would be around 20 per cent lower than last's year record, but still 17 per cent higher than the five year average to 2010/11.

ABARES executive director Paul Morris said the lower production forecasts reflect relatively dry seasonal conditions in WA and some parts of south-eastern Australia.

"In contrast, conditions have been more positive in northern New South Wales and Queensland, where crops are forecast to achieve above average yields," he said.

Mr Morris said while wheat production was forecast to fall this season, wheat available for export would remain high reflecting the significantly higher production of the past two seasons.

Wheat stocks held by bulk handlers at the beginning of August were around 11.5 million tonnes, around double the level at the same time in 2009.

ABARES is forecasting barley production in 2012/13 to fall by 19 per cent to around seven million tonnes, while canola production is expected to decline two per cent to around 2.8 million tonnes.

For the summer crop regions, Mr Morris said above average winter rainfall had provided promising conditions for crop plantings, with the area planted forecast to rise by six per cent to around 1.7 million hectares.

Total summer crop production is forecast to rise by five per cent to around 5.7 million tonnes in 2012/13.

The West Australian

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