UPDATE 1-Australia sugar storm damage seen limited to a few areas

Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:09pm EST

* Most significant sugar damage seen in three southern Queensland areas

* Sugar cane production seen up to 1 million tonnes lower after storm-industry

* Grain transport marginally slowed by ex-cyclone Oswald (Adds detail on areas most affected, industry quote)

SYDNEY, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Australia's sugar crop is expected to avoid major damage from a recent tropical storm in eastern parts of the country, although some cane-growing areas have been hit in southern Queensland, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The rains from ex-cyclone Oswald are also not expected to have a big impact on Australia's eastern wheat crop, with the additional moisture potentially able to help the winter crop.

Australia is the world's third-largest sugar exporter and early assessments on sugar production in Queensland, where most of the country's sugar cane is grown, suggested the impact will not be too serious, industry group CaneGrowers Australia said.

Most of the damage was in southern Queensland in three areas -- Bundaberg, Maryborough, and to a lesser extent Childers -- CaneGrowers said.

Steve Greenwood, chief executive of CaneGrowers, said Bundaberg and Maryborough typically account for cane production of just shy of 2.5 million tonnes.

On the other hand, rains had relieved heat stress across other areas of Queensland following dry weather, CaneGrowers said, adding that the full extent of the damage would be revealed within a week.

"We were hoping the Australian (cane) crop to come in at just over 32 million tonnes for the 2013 year," Greenwood said.

"There will be an re-adjustment of that forecast now. The reality is, it will be somewhere between 31-32 million tonnes."

New York sugar prices rallied to a 30-year high around 36 U.S. cents in February 2011 on damage to the crop in Australia from Cyclone Yasi.

March raw sugar futures on ICE were trading at 18.38 cents a lb on Monday, paring earlier gains after reaching 18.96 cents, their highest since Jan. 14.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) in December pegged raw sugar production for the 2012/13 year at 4.50 million tonnes.

Grains handler GrainCorp said wheat from the 2011/12 season is likely to experience only small delays in the transport from silos to ports.

Analysts said 2012/13 season wheat planting, which is still several months away, could be aided by the heavy rains following a record heat wave, which has sapped soil moisture across the Australian east coast.

Australia's cyclonic storm season runs from Nov. 1 to April 30. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Ed Davies)