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India’s near-record wheat crop estimate ‘optimistic’

India’s near-record wheat crop estimate ‘optimistic’

India, which unveiled its first wheat imports of 2016, is poised for its biggest purchases of the grain in nine years next season, US officials said, questioning a New Delhi forecast for a record harvest yield.

India will import 1.0m tonnes of wheat in 2016-17, double the 500,000 tonnes expected for the current season, and the highest since 2007-08, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in New Delhi said.

Exports, meanwhile, will shrink next season to a six-year low of 200,000 tonnes.

The forecasts came in a report which termed “optimistic” an Indian government forecast last month that the country’s forthcoming wheat harvest will hit 93.8m tonnes, a figure which factors in a record 3.19 tonnes-per-hectare yield.

“Trade sources are currently estimating the crop in the range of 82m-89m tonnes,” the bureau said in the briefing, which quoted last year’s harvest at 86.5m tonnes, a figure in line with the official Indian estimate.

‘Poor soil moisture conditions’

The bureau itself pegged the harvest at 88m tonnes, on a yield of 2.99 tonnes per hectare, citing damage from “early moisture and temperature stress.

“Due to the deficient and early withdrawal of 2015 monsoon, sowing of the 2016 wheat crop commenced in October under ‘poor’ soil moisture conditions,” said the bureau.

“Agriculture experts report that ‘higher-than-normal’ day temperature during October through first week of January caused further stress to the plant affecting vegetative growth.”

Overnight, broker INTL FC Stone put the forthcoming Indian harvest at 87m tonnes.

However, the United Nations food agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday, in a relatively upbeat estimate for world wheat production this year, flagged “more favourable growing conditions… helping production to recover in India”.

Import purchase

Separately on Thursday, Indian millers were revealed to have made their first wheat import purchases of 2016, purchasing 60,000 tonnes of Australian wheat for a reported $230 a tonne, including cost and freight.

India was last year estimated to have purchased some 500,000 tonnes of premium Australian wheat.

(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/indias-near-record-wheat-crop-estimate-optimistic–9377.html)

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