17 February 1998
Australian wheat harvest defies El Niño bogey

By FWi staff

THE predicted shortfall in the Australian wheat harvest due to the El Niño weather pattern has not eventuated, according to the Australian Wheat Board (AWB).

The AWB, solely responsible for the marketing of Australias entire export wheat crop, has put the 1997/98 harvest at more than 19 million tonnes – well above the 14m tonne average for the past decade.

Prior to harvest, conditions got so dry that crops started to turn yellow and wilt. It was then predicted that the national crop would fall well below the 14m tonne average, but last-minute rains saved the day for many growers.

However, the dry conditions have left the AWB with some major marketing problems. All up, the board has about 13-14m tonnes to sell.

Australia has built itself a reputation of being a consistent supplier of high-quality clean milling wheat. In fact, up to 50 nations use Australian Standard White and Durum for the production of bread, noodles and pasta.

But this year many regions throughout the country have produced grain which is small and pinched – relegating it to feed quality only.