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Aussies Forecast Big Grain Decline

by Associated Press
Capital Press - September 13, 2002

CANBERRA, Australia -- Government officials on Tuesday slashed Australia's annual forecast for grain production by 40 percent, blaming a drought gripping the nation's east coast.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said the harvest was likely to fall 15 million metric tons to 22.2 million metric tons in 2002.

A metric ton is about 2,204.62 pounds.

Among the worst-affected grain crops is wheat, one of the country's major sources of export income. The bureau said this year Australian farmers will likely produce just 13.5 million metric tons, down from earlier predictions of 20.5 million metric tons.

Bureau executive director Brian Fisher said the forecast downgrade was the result of a drought that has gripped much of South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales states.

"The spreading drought is having a devastating effect on this year's Australian grain crop," Fisher said in a statement.

"Rainfall in all major grain-producing regions has been well below the average this season for the period from April to August. With subsoil moisture reserves generally low, many crops will struggle to achieve worthwhile yields," he said.

Barley production is expected to fall to 4.6 million metric tons from 7.5 million metric tons, and canola production is expected to be 1 million metric tons, down 600,000 metric tons, the forecaster said.

by Associated Press
Aussies Forecast Big Grain Decline
Capital Press - September 13, 2002

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