SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Australia’s 2018-19 winter crop production is now estimated to be 23% lower than last year’s crop, and 20% below the 20-year-average due to unfavorable weather conditions in early spring.

Wheat production is estimated to drop 20% to 17 million tonnes, according to the Dec. 4 Crop Report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). That would be the lowest since 2008 when production was 13.6 million tonnes.

Barley production is down 18% to 7.3 million tonnes and canola is down 39% to 2.2 million tonnes.

Total winter crop production is estimated at 29.3 million tonnes, ABARES said.

“While production in New South Wales and Queensland is forecast to be the lowest in over 20 years, we expect national production to be substantially higher than in the droughts of 2002–03 and 2006–07,” said ABARES Executive Director Steve Hatfield-Dodds. “Above average rainfall in October benefitted crop prospects in southern New South Wales, southern Wimmera in Victoria, southern South Australia and Western Australia. However, it arrived too late in other regions to benefit winter crops.”

The drop in wheat production is likely to cut exports from the world’s fourth largest supplier. Last year, the nation exported 13.8 million tonnes of wheat.

This comes at a time when prices are rising and GrainCorp, the country’s largest bulk grain handler, is facing an unsolicited takeover bid.

Reuters reported that analysts say the timing of the offer was opportunistic  since the weather conditions make it difficult for the company to make money.

Summer crop planting is just beginning in some regions and is expected to fall 18% to 1.1 million hectares. Production is estimated down 24% to 3.1 million tonnes.

“Summer crops prospects are highly dependent on sufficient and timely in-crop rainfall because of low levels of soil moisture in many regions,” ABARES said in its report.