SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) in its December crop report forecast 2012-13 winter wheat production at 22 million tonnes, down about 2% from its September forecast of 22.5 million tonnes, down 26% from 29.9 million tonnes in 2011-12 and 3% below the five-year average (2007-08 to 2011-12) of 22.8 million tonnes.

Australian wheat exports in 2012-13 were forecast at 20.9 million tonnes, down 15% from 24.7 million tonnes in 2011-12 but 30% above the five-year average of 16 million tonnes.

Total winter crop production in Australia was forecast at 35.1 million tonnes, down 3% from ABARE’s September forecast and down 23% from the record large harvest of 45.6 million tonnes in 2011-12. Barley production in 2012-13 was forecast to fall by 18% to around 6.9 million tonnes and canola production to fall by 16% to around 2.6 million tonnes.

Harvesting of winter crops was mostly completed in Queensland and northern New South Wales and was under way in other regions with the exception of southern Victoria, ABARES said.

Paul Morris, executive director of ABARES, said that while total winter crop production is forecast to be lower than the record harvest of last season, yields in many regions were aided by favorable levels of lower layer soil moisture.

Total summer crop production was forecast by ABARES to remain largely unchanged from last season at around 5.5 million tonnes.