SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — With dry weather predicted along Australia’s East coast, the country’s top commodity agency on June 12 reduced its 2018-19 wheat production forecast by 8% to 21.9 million tonnes, down from the previously projected 23.7 million tonnes.

Compared to the previous year, output for the world’s fourth largest wheat producer is forecast to rise by 3%, while planted area is projected to fall by 2%, according to the June quarterly report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES).

“Total planted area to winter crops is forecast to decrease by 4% to 21.2 million hectares as a result of forecast declines in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia,” ABARES said. “Favorable prices of cereal feed grains relative to prices of oilseeds and pulses and drier-than-average seasonal conditions are expected to result in a significant increase in area planted to barley and a (decrease) in area planted to canola, chickpeas and lentils.”

ABARES said barley production is forecast to increase by 3% year on year to 9.2 million tonnes and canola output is projected to fall 16% to 3.1 million tonnes.

“Barley production is forecast to increase more modestly than might be expected given the forecast increase in planted area because barley yields in Western Australia are forecast to fall from above average back to average,” ABARES said.

Among other crops, chickpeas production is forecast to decline by 40% to 616,000 tonnes and oats production is forecast to remain unchanged at 1.1 million tonnes.

In May, Australia’s biggest listed bulk grain handler, GrainCorp Ltd., reported a 64% decline in half-year profits compared to a year ago in part because of dry weather that has reduced grain production in eastern Australia.