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By Colin Packham
SYDNEY, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Australia raised its forecast for the just harvested 2014/15 wheat crop on Tuesday as timely rains in key growing regions aided yields in the world’s fourth-largest exporter.
Wheat production totalled 23.61 million tonnes, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said, up from its December estimate of 23.22 million tonnes, and the eighth biggest harvest on record.
Although yields fell as a result of prolonged drought across the east coast, the bureau said rains towards the end of the season in key regions eased the impact of the dry weather.
“Below average rainfall was recorded in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales. In contrast, Western Australia recorded average to extremely high rainfall,” it said in its latest crop update.
The driest regions of Queensland and New South Wales also received heavy rains, but the rainfall came too late for winter crops such as wheat, analysts said, although it did provide relief to farmers growing summer crops such as sorghum.
Canola production in 2014/15 was pegged at 3.413 million tonnes, up from the bureau’s previous estimate of 3.32 million tonnes in December.
Cotton production was unchanged at 470,000 tonnes, unchanged from the September forecast. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Richard Pullin)