Author: Michael Ferrari, PhD
VP, Applied Technology & Research

Wheat continues to dominate news in the grains/oilseeds space – this time the focus is Australia.  Eastern Australia has benefited from a favorable patter over the last several months, but the western wheat belt has been stuck in a persistent dry pattern.  In a Bloomberg article today, the lack of rain in Western Australia, and potential for a further downward revision of WA origin production estimates is noted.  The lack of water is evident through satellite-derived vegetation indicators.  In the first map/graphic below, while the 2010 index displaying vegetative health in a similar range to those seen last year as well as normal for this time of year, it is being compared to a generally dry regime so this is not necessarily a positive index.  The second map, and the more important one for Western Australia, is the surface/subsurface soil moisture.  Here, it is clear that 2010 is behind last year, and the water deficit will need a significant shift in the pattern to help the current crop (both of these maps are from USDA).

While the transition to a La Nina pattern will increase the probabilities for Australia to benefit from a wetter pattern towards the end of 2010 into 2011, most of this benefit will be in the east, and the Weather Trends long range outlook is not expecting a wetter y/y pattern in Western Australia until October (see map below); following Oct, the y/y outlook for this region is less favorable until early next year.