SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — While Australia is set to harvest a bumper wheat crop at the end of this year for the third straight year, the quality of grain in the country’s eastern states may suffer due to widespread rain, Reuters reported, citing traders and analysts.

While rains eased up on Oct. 10, authorities warned another intense weather system could bring downpours and trigger flash flooding in several inland regions. Northern Victoria state, southern New South Wales and northern Tasmania face widespread rains of up to 100 mm (4 inches), about a quarter of Australia’s annual average, over two days from late Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

About half of Australia’s wheat crop in New South Wales, or 6 million to 7 million tonnes, is at risk of quality downgrade, with large volumes of east coast wheat becoming feed quality, Ole Houe, director of advisory services at agricultural brokerage IKON Commodities, told Reuters.

Wheat quality downgrades in Australia are set to deepen concerns over global food supplies, with the world’s grain inventories tightening as the Russia-Ukraine war curbs exports and adverse weather reduces production globally. 

Australia is on track for a third year of bumper wheat production as near-perfect weather earlier in the growing season and higher planting boosted crop prospects. The International Grains Council (IGC) sees Australia’s 2022-23 wheat production at 32.2 million tonnes, the third straight year over 31 million tonnes. Wheat planting in Australia takes place in April-May and harvesting starts in November. 

Australia is a key supplier of food quality wheat to buyers in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The IGC anticipates Australia will export 25 million tonnes in 2022-23. If the country’s quality of wheat drops significantly, traders told Reuters to expect increased pressure on North American producers to ship high-quality milling wheat.