CORRECTED-Australia raises wheat production estimate by 8% after east coast rains

(Corrects headline, first and second paragraphs to show wheat production forecast rises by 8% not 12%. Corrects last paragraph to include June comparison, not March.)

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Australia on Tuesday raised its forecast for wheat production during the 2020/21 season by 8.4% as heavy rains across the east coast buoy output in the world's fourth largest exporter.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said wheat production for the year ending June 30, 2021, will total 28.91 million tonnes, up from its June estimate of 26.67 million tonnes.

“Increased production in New South Wales has accounted for 60% of the forecast increase,” Steve Hatfield-Dodds, executive director at ABARES, said in an emailed statement.

The expected increase in Australian wheat production will weigh on benchmark prices, which hit a five-month high last week.

Recent heavy rains will also aid Australian barley production.

Barley output during the 2020/21 season will total 11.2 million tonnes, ABARES forecast, up from its estimate of 10.6 million tonnes in June.

The increased production, however, comes as Australian growers face weak export prospects after China this year imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties totalling 80.5% on Australian barley imports, effectively halting a billion-dollar trade.

The ban was compounded last week when China suspended barley imports from Australia's largest grain exporter, a ruling that inflamed bilateral tensions.

ABARES raised its canola production forecast to 3.4 million tonnes from its June estimate of 3.2 million tonnes. (Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Jason Neely)

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