CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Australian wheat production in 2020-21 is forecast to increase by more than 50% over the previous year due to widespread rainfall across the country earlier this year, according to an April 22 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The much-needed rainfall followed two years of drought conditions in eastern Australia that caused wheat output to plummet.

The USDA projects a wheat crop of 23 million tonnes in 2020-21.

“This is due to both expected higher planting acreage as well as improved yields,” the USDA said. “Barley acreage is also expected to rise, although to a lesser extent than wheat.”

Feed consumption of wheat and barley is expected to fall, the USDA said, as the Australian livestock industry enters a period of herd rebuilding. This, combined with the larger crops, is anticipated to boost exports.

Wheat exports are forecast to rise to 14.5 million tonnes in 2020-21, compared to 8.2 million tonnes the previous year, the USDA said.

“As part of the recently ratified Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement, there is guaranteed access to the Indonesian market for 500,000 tonnes of feed grains, with this quota amount increasing at 5% each year,” the USDA said. “Indonesia is typically the largest market for Australian wheat, but during the past two seasons low Australian wheat supply and strong competition from other suppliers have caused exports there to drop.”

Australia, one of the world’s top wheat producers, is expected to produce just over 15 million tonnes of wheat in 2019-20, which would rank as the smallest harvest in more than a decade, according to the USDA report.