SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Australia’s wheat production is forecast to increase 38% in 2019-20, according to the first official wheat output estimate for the coming season from the Australia Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES), released on March 4.

Assuming average rainfall, wheat production should reach 23.9 million tonnes compared to the 17.3 million tonnes that was harvested in the drought-plagued 2018-19 season, according to ABARES.

Last year’s dismal crop was the smallest in a decade for the world’s fourth largest wheat exporter.

The decline in production in 2018-19 was due to a drought that affected New South Wales and Queensland, two of the biggest grain-producing states in Australia.

Australia’s 10-year average for wheat production is 24.4 million tonnes, ABARES noted.

The bureau also forecast a 20% increase in area planted to wheat in Australia in 2019-20, a year after plantings fell to a 20-year low.

ABARES warned that the long-term forecast remains uncertain and that it’s possible that dry weather could persist into late April, the time when Australian farmers begin planting wheat.