By Boyd Champness

AUSTRALIA is on course to produce 21.9 million tonnes of wheat, the third largest crop in the nations history, following widespread rain across three states.

The grain belts of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia all received excellent rains over the past week renewing confidence in those states.

However, northern and central New South Wales and Queensland are still waiting on planting rain.

In its latest crop report, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says favourable wheat prices compared with other crops will see plantings rise by 3% to nearly 12 million hectares this season.

With a 3% rise in plantings to 4.7 million hectares, Western Australia is looking at a wheat harvest of 8.4 million tonnes almost half of the nations total. New South Wales is expected to reap 6.1 million tonnes, South Australia 3.6 million tonnes, Queensland 2.3 million tonnes and Victoria 1.5 million tonnes.

Australias biggest wheat crop was 23.7 million tonnes in 1996.

Meanwhile, Australias canola crop is expected to hit a new record and surpass 2 million tonnes.

Canola Association of Australia president Bob Colton told the Stock and Land that the majority of this seasons national canola crop was already in the ground, sown dry.

“So the die is cast to a large extent,” he told the paper. “Central and northern New South Wales remain a worry, but we still might top 2 million tonnes.”

“The 2 million tonne (figure) was based on five-year average yields, so it really depends on what the season does from here on in.

“There is a lot of good subsoil moisture in New South Wales, so if those areas do get rain, even if its a bit late, theres still the opportunity to meet average yields.”