NAB raises bar on hopes for Australian wheat harvest


The coming of August brought fresh legs to the round of upgrades to expectations for Australia's wheat harvest, with National Australia Bank raising the bar on estimates to put the third biggest crop ever in view.

The bank hiked by 1.1m tonnes to 27.2m tonnes its forecast for the crop this year, overtaking Rabobank, which last week lifted its estimate to 26.7m tonnes.

National Australia Bank cited wet weather in particular in eastern growing areas – raising its estimate for the New South Wales crop by 1.2m tonnes to 8.6m tonnes, "more than offsetting a small downgrade to forecast Western Australian production".

The estimate for the crop in Western Australia, the country's top wheat growing state, was downgraded by 400,000 tonnes to 9.1m tonnes.

Forecasts for harvests in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria received small upgrades.

Further upgrades ahead?

"Our forecasts are based on rainfall to date and [an assumption of] average rainfall in major cropping areas for the rest of the season," National Australia Bank said.

A harvest at the level forecasted would be Australia's third highest on record, and the highest since the record 29.9m tonnes achieved in 2011-12.

The crop could be the second highest ever, reaching 27.8m tonnes, if rainfall comes in at 20% above average levels for winter and early spring, an outcome which official long-term forecasts have said could be possible for eastern and northern areas.

'Favourable soil moisture'

The International Grains Council also last upgraded its forecast for Australia's wheat harvest, by 500,000 tonnes to 26.0m tonnes, citing improved yield prospects, albeit highlighting more the prospects for a bumper Western Australian crop.

"Widespread rains kept soil moisture favourable for winter wheat in Australia" last month, the council said.

"With temperatures close to normal, crops are well established, with conditions especially good in Western Australia, the leading producing and exporting state."


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