TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The withering dry spell across Australia's east coast is expected to reduce wheat crop yields in the world's fourth largest exporter of the grain. It has already hit summer crops such as sorghum, where China is a major buyer.
"The area of Australia that has been dealt the hardest blow by drought is the sorghum producing area," said Nick Carracher, head of Asia Commodities Advisory Platform at INTL FCStone.
China is looking to boost grain and oilseed imports from alternative regions after imposing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans amid an escalating trade spat between the two biggest economies.
Dry weather in other key producing areas of Europe and the Black Sea has already driven up wheat prices, while China's wheat output is also expected to fall.. Chicago wheat prices are up 11 percent in the past three weeks.
"Price is almost irrelevant to seasonal conditions given how bad it is in the north," said Carracher.
Australia's last winter, which runs from June to August, was the warmest since records began more than a century ago and also one of the 10 driest ever, sapping moisture ahead of this year's planting.
This year the weather has improved in parts of Western Australia but winter rain has gone missing across much of eastern Australia, with rainfall at or near record low levels across vast tracts of the country.
Australia is expected to produce around 20 million tons of wheat this year, traders said,
down from last year's 21.2 million tons and below a record 31.8 million tons in 2016/17.
Some forecasters say the harvest could fall as low as 13 million tons without rain in the next few months.