(Bloomberg) -- A lingering dry, hot summer is increasing concerns for grain farmers in Australia’s top producing state as they begin planting the next crop, according to the Grain Industry Association of Western Australia. 

Growers are taking a cautious approach as the soil is extremely dry, the association said in a monthly report Friday. Farmers are still expected to plant 8.6 million hectares of crops, including 4.96 million hectares of wheat. Sown crop area was just under 8.5 million hectares in 2023.

Any threat to wheat production in Australia, a major supplier, could bolster global prices that have fallen near to the lowest level since 2020 amid bumper exports from top shipper Russia. Still, in a sign tighter supplies may be looming, the International Grains Council on Thursday trimmed its estimate for global wheat stockpiles in the upcoming 2024-25 season. 

Although storms across areas of the eastern grain belt in March raised hopes for a change in the weather, forecasts for continued dry conditions have fanned concerns, the association said. Since October, the weather has been much drier than normal for much of the cropping region, with soil moisture remaining very low in most areas, according to the report. 

“There is nothing positive on the horizon and this is playing on growers’ minds,” the group said, noting that long-term weather forecasts are not particularly reliable at this time of the year. 

Other crop area estimates:

  • Barley: 1.46 million hectares
  • Canola: 1.57 million hectares
  • Oats: 265,000 hectares
  • Lupins: 300,000 hectares
  • Pulses: 40,000 hectares

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