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Australia Set For Higher-Quality Wheat Harvest

ustralia is set to reap a higher-quality harvest this year, although yields will be lower, analysts predict.

A Reuters poll of 13 analysts pegs wheat production at around 24 million tonnes in the marketing year to September 2012, short of the record 26.3 million tonnes reaped in 2010-11. Last year, La Nińa rains in eastern Australia resulted in a wet harvest, which cranks up in November. The rains boosted output but downgraded quality to general purpose or feed wheat grades.

In Western Australia, the country’s top grain-exporting state, improved rainfall has some analysts predicting the harvest might top eight million tonnes. Drought cut the state’s crop to around 4.7 million tonnes last season.

The median estimate of analysts puts exports at 18.29 million tonnes in the marketing year that ends on Sept. 30, 2011, compared with 13.7 million tonnes in 2009-10.

Analysts and traders warned that conditions could easily change. Baking temperatures, lack of spring rain or a mice plague are the chief risks.

“We are in that tricky time which is August/September when temperatures are warming up, so getting rainfall when it is needed becomes critical,” said grain marketing advisor Scott Olsen.

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