South Australia grain exports cruise to record top

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Grain exports from South Australia have set a marketing year record with two months to spare, supporting upbeat ideas for estimates for Australian shipments.

The state shipped 6.84m tonnes between the start of the 2010-11 marketing year, in October, and the end of last month, Viterra, which owns South Australia’s ports, said.

The figure beat a previous record of 6.69m tonnes for a whole marketing year, set nine years ago, with August and September trade yet to factor in.

Volumes for these two months should prove "solid", Canada-based Viterra, which bought Australia’s ABB Grain two years ago, said.

Export hopes

The data come the day after Luke Mathews, at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, forecast Australian shipments of wheat, the country’s main grain export, hitting 19m tonnes, supported by strong demand in South East Asia for feed wheat.

The US Department of Agriculture, whose estimates are viewed as setting world benchmarks, has pegged the figure at 17.5m tonnes.

Many grain buyers have, in the face of corn prices which hit a record earlier this year, lifted orders for wheat where possible.

With Black Sea exports curbed until the last couple of months, following a drought-devastated harvest last year, this opened up ready export potential for Australian wheat, even though its quality was curtailed by harvest rain.

Slowdown ahead?

However, wheat shipments in 2011-12 look set to be curtailed by a weaker harvest than last year’s record crop.

National Australia Bank on Friday cut its estimate for the harvest by nearly 3m tonnes to 21.8m tonnes, citing dry weather in parts of New South Wales and Queensland.

NAB pegged the South Australia wheat harvest at 3.8m tonnes, compared with an official estimate of 2.16m tonnes, and a figure of 5.6m tonnes last year.–3513.html?

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