Australia's east coast faces sweltering 3 months in blow to wheat output
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Australia's east coast will
endure hot, dry weather over the next three months, the
country's weather bureau said on Thursday, threatening wheat
production in the world's fourth-largest exporter.
Australia's east coast has only a 20 percent chance of
receiving average rainfall between March 1 and May 31, the
Bureau of Meteorology said.
The bureau also forecast an 80 percent chance that nearly
all of Australia will experience above average temperatures over
the same period.
The forecast darkens the outlook for Australia's wheat
production, with farmers preparing to sow crops in less than two
Farmers will have to abandon their planting intentions or
sow into dry soils in the hope of a break in the weather,
"Farmers could get away with no rain in March but they will
desperately need a break in April. There is no moisture in the
soil, it could get very bad," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness
economist, National Australia Bank.
Australia has been grappling with successive years of
drought that have wilted crops and left some farmers struggling
to stay in business.
Australia's wheat production fell to an 11-year low during
the 2018/19 season, according to the country's chief commodity
Wheat is the country's largest rural export, worth an
estimated A$5.5 billion ($3.9 billion) last year.
Australia's chief commodity forecaster will issue its first
production forecast for the upcoming season in March.
($1 = 1.4000 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin)
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