Western Australian Grain Production Seen Sharply Lower In 2009

Early estimates for grain production in the state of Western Australia in 2009 are for output of 8-11 MMT, between 10-35% lower than the 12.3 MMT produced last year, according to the region's monopoly grain storage facility Cooperative Bulk Handling.

Western Australia is the nation's largest wheat producing state, accounting for around 40% of the national production in 2008 with a crop of 8.9 MMT. Typically around 70% of WA grain production is wheat, implying a wheat crop this year of 5.6-7.7 MMT.

Last week's heavy rains in WA are said to have missed large tranches of the wheat belt entirely.

Meanwhile in the east, plantings in New South Wales and Victoria, which make up around 36% of Australia’s wheat production, have also ground to a halt. Planting, which began around the start of May, has slowed dramatically due to worsening drought conditions in the region, according to StormX. In the past two weeks, even drier conditions have prevailed, with some wheat fields recording no measurable rainfall at all, they say.

Melbourne has had the driest start to a year in 42 years, with just 99 millimetres of rain so far, 160mm short of the average.

Australia is the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter.