AUSTRALIA is expected to become the world's second-largest wheat exporter this year.
Two consecutive big grain harvests and a third on the way, plus large carryover stocks from 2010-11 have combined to put pressure on exporters to make good sales overseas.
In its autumn crop update, Rabobank forecasts Australian wheat exports to top 21.2 million tonnes this year.
"If this is achieved, Australia is expected to become the world's second-largest wheat exporter," the bank said.
Australia exported 18.5 million tonnes the previous season but the record for shipments was in 1996-97 when 19 million tonnes of wheat were shipped.
Until the late 1990s, Australia usually ranked fourth behind the European Union, the US and Canada.
But the world wheat order has dramatically changed since about 2000, with the EU exporting less wheat, the US consistently ranking as the No.1 exporter and Russia becoming a more important grain producer.
According to figures from the US Department of Agriculture's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Australia last held the No.2 wheat exporter position six years ago, marginally above Canada.
Australia has become a more important wheat supplier during the past decade, despite suffering a number of droughts.
Wheat export tonnages in the WASDE reports are estimates only and may vary slightly from each country's actual exports.
The Rabobank forecast for Australian wheat exports is similar to the USDA's forecast of 21 million tonnes.
Rabobank said Australia could expect another bumper grain crop this harvest, largely as a result of good subsoil moisture in the grain belt.
The bank is tipping national wheat production for the new season to reach 24.7 million tonnes, about 13 per cent lower than the past harvest.
It said wheat production in Victoria, NSW and Queensland would be about 12.2 million tonnes, while SA was forecast to produce four million tonnes.
The WA crop was tipped to be about 8.5 million tonnes.
"Our WA yield forecast for 2012-13 reflects a normalisation in yield relative to the record yield recorded in 2011-12," the bank said.