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Rains Plague Australian Harvest

Australia’s eastern states face at least another week of wet weather after rains stalled the country’s wheat harvest and raised concerns about the crop’s quality, the country’s weather bureau said Dec. 6.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology was forecasting more rainfall across eastern state grain regions through the week as farmers struggle to get harvesting equipment onto waterlogged fields.

The poor harvest outlook for one of the world’s leading wheat exporters is helping to propel global wheat prices to levels not seen since August when a drought in Russia sliced production and saw that country ban wheat exports.

Australia has recorded its wettest spring on record. The bureau said in a statement that the September to November period had averaged 163 millimetres of rain, beating a previous record by 23 millimetres.

The unusually wet weather was concentrated in eastern Australia and has been attributed to a La Nińa weather event.

The wet weather means at least six million tonnes of the country’s 2010-11 wheat crop, or around one-quarter of the harvest now underway, could be downgraded in quality, according to Luke Mathews, an agricultural commodities strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

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