SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — GrainCorp announced on May 26 that its net profit after tax for the first half of the year was A$88 million, up 66% from A$35 million a year ago.

The company also announced a A15¢ interim dividend and a A05¢ special dividend.

GrainCorp Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Alison Watkins said, “This is a very pleasing result, as it follows the largest but also the most challenging harvest in the company’s history. Harvest grain receival activities were disrupted by rain, and flooding in the New Year had a significant effect on both the domestic and export supply chain activities.

“Earnings from grain handling and marketing were all higher due to the record eastern Australian winter crop harvest, high grain receivals, an increase in the tonnage of grain marketed and improved productivity.

“Malt business earnings were marginally lower in a challenging environment characterized by unfavorable foreign exchange rates (high Australian and Canadian dollars) and continued soft beer demand in mature markets.”

GrainCorp said second-half earnings from grain handling will be supported by the significant carry forward of grain in its country elevators. Earnings from storage will be higher than the previous half year, the company said.

Significant revenue will be generated from handling this grain for both export and domestic customers in the second half.

“We expect grain exports to continue to be strong as exporters seek to deliver grain to customers in the lead up to the new season,” Watkins said.

Planting of the 2011-12 eastern states cereal, pulse and oilseed crop is well under way, with farmers taking advantage of good subsoil moisture. Australian Crop Forecasters are predicting an eastern Australian wheat, barley and canola crop of 19 million tonnes, 3 million tonnes lower than the prior corresponding period, but well above the long-term average.

“While crop conditions are looking promising in most regions, favorable planting and growing conditions are needed to ensure good germination and a strong harvest outlook,” Watkins said.