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Australian 2018/19 wheat production revised down to 21 mil mt: USDA

Singapore — Australia's wheat production forecast for 2018-19 (October-September) has been revised down to 21 million mt, around the same as the previous harvest year, and 12.5% below the earlier forecast of 24 million mt, the US Department of Agriculture said in its report released late Tuesday.

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The downward revision is due to hot conditions and low rainfall in eastern Australia and assumes an average winter rainfall.

Rainfall from late June appeared to have come too late for crop planting and development in many parts of eastern Australia, but it has assisted the outlook for winter crop in Western Australia, the report said.

Bureau of Meteorology's climate outlook for July to September indicated a drier than average winter is expected for most of the cropping regions in Australia.

In the east coast of Australia, the dry and hot conditions have resulted in grain shortages for livestock production and pushed up prices to near 10-year highs. USDA expects the high domestic feed prices in eastern Australia to limit wheat exports from the region.

In general, Western Australia accounts for over 40% of exports, while a greater proportion of the east coast wheat harvest is consumed domestically.

Domestic wheat consumption is estimated at 8.5 million mt for 2018-19, with the primary demand coming from increasing feed grain consumption expected to rise to 5 million mt, while human wheat consumption remains stable at 3.5 million mt.

With majority of the domestic wheat demand concentrated in the east coast, traders expect the inter-state trading to persist in the upcoming harvest year.

This means importers in Asia would have to continue competing with the domestic demand and prices to secure their Australian wheat cargoes.

Australian wheat exports are forecast at 15 million mt for 2018-19, reflecting lower production. Australia's exports are expected to face stronger competition from Black Sea, especially for feed wheat.

--Takmila Shahid, takmila.shahid@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com