ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Pakistan’s 2017-18 wheat crop is estimated at a record 26.5 million tonnes, according to a Jan. 3 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report said the record is expected despite a marginal decrease in planted area, as generally good weather and expanded fertilizer use supported yields.

“Good spells of rain across the wheat-producing areas in November and December helped the sowing and germination,” the USDA said.

The crop will be harvested in April and May and marketed through 2019.

With high tariff and high domestic prices, Pakistan continues to be isolated from the international wheat market, the USDA said, noting that the domestic market is insulated from imports by a 60% regulatory duty.

“The tariff is well below Pakistan’s bound tariff rate for wheat of 150%,” the USDA said. “Consequently, Pakistan is not likely to import any significant quantity of wheat during 2017-18.”

The report said Pakistan’s most reliable export market is Afghanistan, where wheat flour is typically exported via close relationships between traders on either side of the border. However, recent closings of a number of border crossings and the high price of wheat appear to be curbing the flow of flour into Afghanistan, the USDA said.

Wheat equivalent exports to Afghanistan are estimated at 400,000 tonnes and total Pakistani exports are estimated at 600,000 tonnes, the report said.