UPDATE: A DRY spring has prompted Australia's agricultural forecaster to wipe half a million tonnes off the national wheat crop.In its latest crop report released this morning, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences has estimated national wheat production at 22.04 million tonnes, down from its September forecast of 22.54 million tonnes.
Half the cut in production came from Western Australia, which suffered below average rainfall during the season but particularly a dry October.
The WA crop is now tipped to be 6.86 million tonnes, 255,000 tonnes lower than the September estimate of 7.11 million tonnes.
Most of the other cuts in the wheat crop estimate were in South Australia, where the forecast was reduced from 3.89 million tonnes in September to 3.67 million tonnes today.
The Queensland crop was cut by 38,000 tonnes to 1.74 million tonnes.
The Victorian and NSW wheat crops were left unchanged at 2.67 million tonnes and 7.07 million tonnes, respectively.
ABARES has tipped the total winter crop to be 35.08 million tonnes this season, more than a million tonnes less than its September estimate.
The bureau said crop yields had ``held up reasonably well in many winter cropping regions, despite the dry seasonal conditions experienced in the past few months''.
ABARES executive director Paul Morris said crop production was helped by ``favourable levels of lower layer soil moisture''.
Mr Morris said winter crop production this season was expected to be 14 per cent higher than the five-year average to 2010-11.
Victorian winter crop production has been cut by 65,000 tonnes to 5.31 million tonnes, with pulse crops accounting for most of the reduction.
“Spring rainfall across much of the Mallee has been well below average and crops were already in poor condition heading into spring,” ABARES said.
“In the Wimmera, conditions deteriorated as a result of a significant fall in soil moisture levels.
“In the North Central region, spring rainfall was below average but lower layer soil moisture remained average at the end of November.
“In the Western District, rainfall was average across the growing season, except during the important yield months of October and November.”
ABARES left its forecast of NSW barley production unchanged at 1.54 million tonnes but reduced its estimate of the canola crop by 43,000 tonnes to 842,000 tonnes.
The bureau said NSW crops had performed “quite well” considering they received little rainfall in the critical growth period.