Sunny outlook for grain crops

LATE August rain across much of WA will result in a bumper winter grains crop according to the crop report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Despite heavy rain and flooding caused by Cyclone Vance, production of winter crops are forecast to be 11.9 million tonnes in 1999-2000.

Good rains have resulted in above-average yields in wheat production with a 4 per cent increase in the forecast crop to around 8.4 million tonnes.

But it is canola that is winning the hearts and minds of WA farmers.

While Australian canola plantings have increased by about 45 per cent, in WA plantings have increased by 70 per cent to around 870,000 hectares in 1999-2000.

The shift away from the traditional wheat crop has been caused by returns of around $450 a hectare for canola compared with $290 a hectare for wheat based on current prices.

However, the move toward canola production has resulted in returns dropping by $100 a tonne.

The results from ABARE indicate that canola prices are unlikely to stabilise in the near future until returns are brought into line with other crops.

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