CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — With wheat and barley leading the way, Australia is set for a third consecutive record grain crop and strong exports, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wheat production is estimated to have reached a record 37 million tonnes in marketing year 2022-23; wheat production was 31.9 million tonnes in 2020-21 and 36.34 million tonnes in 2021-22. The barley harvest is projected at 13.5 million tonnes, the fourth largest on record.

The wheat and barley results were strongly supported by near ideal conditions in Western Australia and South Australia, but this was partially offset by excessive rains in much of the grain-growing regions of New South Wales and Victoria in September and October 2022. 

“This (excessive rain) has also caused substantial volumes of wheat to be downgraded in quality with a significant increase in the volume of feed-grade wheat expected,” FAS Post Canberra said.

Total grain receivals by mid-January at CBH (Western Australia), Viterra (South Australia) and GrainCorp (Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria) were a combined 40.511 million tonnes in 2022-23, up from 39.511 million in 2021-22.

Wheat exports in 2022-23 are expected to reach a record 28 million tonnes. For the summer crops, sorghum production is estimated to achieve 2.9 million tonnes and, if realized, would be the third largest on record. 

“For over two decades Indonesia has been Australia’s largest wheat export market by far, but in 2021-22 China became the largest destination with 6.1 million tonnes (22%) compared to Indonesia at 3.8 million tonnes (14%),” FAS Post Canberra said.

The milled rice production forecast has been severely affected by excessive rains in the lead-up to planting, resulting in only around half of the area planted from what was previously expected. The forecast calls for 288,000 tonnes of milled rice production in 2022-23, a 42% decline from 500,000 tonnes the previous year.