SYDNEY, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Australia’s wheat production fell to an 11-year low during the 2018/19 season, the country’s chief commodity forecaster said on Tuesday, after an east coast drought wilted crops in the world’s No. 4 exporter.
Output totalled 17.3 million tonnes, down from 21.24 million tonnes a year earlier, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said in its final tally for the recently harvested crop.
The figure was slightly above the bureau’s December estimate of 16.95 million tonnes, but still marks Australia’s smallest wheat crop since 2007/08, when production fell to just 13.6 million tonnes.
Lower Australian wheat production has provided key support for global benchmark prices, which rallied about 18 percent in 2018.
The shortfall in Australian production came after a crippling drought across New South Wales and Queensland, two major grain producing states.
Australian farmers will begin sowing wheat for the 2019/20 season in April.
The bureau will issue its first production forecast for the upcoming season in March, but analysts have warned that recent dry conditions will again threaten output.
Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin