West Australian Farmers Speed Up Planting After Rain, CBH Says

Grain growers in Western Australia, the country’s second-biggest wheat producer last year, are set to accelerate planting of winter crops after rain this week boosted soil moisture, according to CBH Group.

About 40 millimeters (1.6 inches) to 60 millimeters fell in the Geraldton zone this week, Colin Tutt, general manager operations at the state’s biggest grain handler, said by phone from Perth. As much as 15 millimeters fell in western Kwinana and Albany zones, he said.

Wheat climbed 6.3 percent in April, the best month since July, on concern freezing weather may cut production in the U.S., the biggest exporter. Farmers in parts of Western Australia started sowing crops into dry soil after below-average rainfall in April followed above-average summer rain. Wheat production in the state slumped 38 percent last harvest after dry weather curbed yields, according to the Canberra-based Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, or Abares.

“It gives a bit more confidence,” Tutt said today. “Everybody will be up and running now and we’ll see a lot of crop go into the ground over the next 10 days.”

The area planted to winter crops, which include barely and canola, may total 6.5 million hectares (16 million acres) to 6.8 million hectares this year, Tutt said, reiterating a May 7 forecast. He did not give a production estimate.

New South Wales overtook Western Australia as the country’s largest wheat producer last year, according to Abares. New South Wales produced 7.1 million metric tons, while Western Australia’s output dropped to 6.9 million tons from 11 million tons, Abares data show.

Wheat production in Western Australia may rebound 33 percent to 9.1 million tons this season, Commonwealth Bank of Australia said yesterday. National production may increase to 24.9 million tons from 22.1 million tons a year earlier, it said.

Wheat for July delivery dropped 0.5 percent to $7.20 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 10:47 a.m. in Singapore, down 1.5 percent this month.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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