AUSTRALIA (19 November)
In Australia, harvesting of the 2001 wheat and small coarse grains crops is underway under generally favourable conditions. The most recent official forecast dates from early September when ABARE forecast 2001 wheat output at 20.1 million tonnes, about 5 percent below the previous year. Since that forecast was issued the outlook is reported to have improved in some parts, but deteriorated in others. In Western Australia, where harvesting conditions are reported to be excellent, recent traders forecasts point to a bigger output for the region than was expected in September. By contrast, in New South Wales, persisting drought has continued to stress crops and late frosts are reported to have caused significant damage in some parts, which will pull yields down yet further. FAO’s latest forecast puts aggregate cereal output in 2001 at about 32 million tonnes, similar to last year’s crop but below the average of almost 33 million tonnes over the past five years.
COOK ISLANDS (1 November)
Abnormally dry weather has been affecting the country for the last six months. Some recent rains have helped alleviate the situation, but water supply levels are still reported low because of low rainfall. The wet or hurricane season, however, is about to start and an improvement in water availability levels is expected.