USDA Attache: Record 2008-09 Wheat Area Seen In Australia

Total area planted in 2008/09 to wheat in Australia is forecast by the US attache at 14.0 million hectares, up on the previous forecast submitted. If achieved, this area would represent an all time record easily surpassing the 13.4 million hectares planted in 2004/05. Record high wheat prices combined with record low sheep numbers has likely driven planted area to record levels.

The attache forecasts total wheat production for 2008/09 at 22.4 MMT, down on his previous forecast. Below average rainfall in some key grain growing regions has reduced expectations for wheat production despite an increase in forecast planted area. Given average climatic conditions, and allowing for some variation in the final area number, the atache sees the scope for Australian wheat production varying between 20.2 and 24.7 MMT. Climatic conditions outside of those considered "normal" would likely push production outside this range.

This production forecast assumes an average yield of around 1.6 MT/Ha. This figure remains slightly under the 10 year average of 1.64 MT/Ha, according to historic ABARE data.