* Victorian floods could see 40-50 pct of wheat downgraded
* Feed quality wheat may rise to 12.25 million tonnes
* Rain delays harvesting (Adds detail, crop estimates)
By Bruce Hextall
SYDNEY, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Further downgrading of wheat quality in the south-eastern Australian state Victoria is likely following heavy flooding delaying the end of the state’s harvest, a crop analyst said on Wednesday.
The reduced quality could see up to about half of Australia’s expected national 2010/11 wheat crop, estimated at an average 23.37 million tonnes in a Reuters poll on Friday, downgraded, according to Australian Crop Forecasters analyst Gavin Warburton.
Torrential rain across eastern Australia has damaged crops and forced farmers to leave some crops unharvested.
Australia, usually the world’s fourth-biggest wheat exporter, has been suffering extensive rain damage to an otherwise big crop.
For Reuters wheat production poll see, [ID:nL3E7C70MO}
For Australian wheat FACTBOX see,
ACF still expects Australia to reap around a 25 million tonnes 2010/11 wheat crop, up from 21.9 million tonnes last season.
But around 12.25 million tonnes could be downgraded to lower quality wheat, according to Australian Crop Forecasters analyst Gavin Warburton.
Torrential downpours had already damaged crops in the states of Queensland and northern New South Wales, adding to a global shortage of higher protein wheat.
“In Victoria, with the vast amount of rain that has been received there will be some crop abandonment and there will be some further downgrade in quality in the Wimmera and western districts that had been holding very well,” said Warburton.
“With 100 millimetres of rain over these ripe crops there will be downgrades - whether it will be 40 percent or 50 percent.. we will just have to wait and see,” he said.
Warburton said the state was still likely to reap a record crop of around 4 million to 4.5 million tonnes even though much of the crop will be downgraded to low grade milling wheat or feed grade.
The larger grain producing eastern state of New South Wales has been more severely hit by torrential rain received late last year.
The state is still expected to reap around a record 9.9 million tonnes crop with about 50 percent of the crop downgraded to feed quality.
ACF estimates Australia could have around 10 million tones of milling quality wheat for the 2010/11 (Oct-Sept) year of which up to three million tonnes will be consumed domestically.
Including feed grade wheat, around 14 million tonnes is likely to be exported, little changed from 2009/10.
“At the moment there is a big requirement for feed wheat because of a smaller global corn crop — that’s created an opportunity for feed grades wheat,” Warburton said. (Editing by Ed Davies)