Climatic and agronomic conditions

​​Australian Crop Report: June edition

During autumn 2019, rainfall was severely deficient to well below average across much of Western Australia, and across parts of northern and central New South Wales, north-western Victoria and eastern South Australia. Autumn rainfall on Yorke Peninsula, much of the mid-north and parts of upper Eyre Peninsula of South Australia was below average. Rainfall was mostly average or above across much of Queensland and remaining cropping areas in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (Map 1).

Map 1 Australian rainfall percentiles, 1 March 2019 to 31 May 2019

 

Note: Rainfall percentiles are displayed for cropping regions only.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

During May 2019, rainfall was generally average in central and northern cropping regions in New South Wales, north east Victoria, eastern South Australia and northern and western cropping regions in Queensland (Map 2). Rainfall was above average in large parts of Eyre Peninsula, lower Yorke Peninsula and the mid-north in South Australia, central Victoria, and southern New South Wales. Rainfall was also close to average in parts of the Esperance region of Western Australia. However, rainfall was extremely low to well below average in remaining cropping regions in Queensland and Western Australia, and parts of central New South Wales.

Map 2 Australian rainfall percentiles, 1 to 31 May 2019

Note: Rainfall percentiles are displayed for cropping regions only.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

While May 2019 rainfall was extremely low for most Western Australian cropping areas, a significant rainfall event during the week ending 10 June 2019 brought widespread falls of between 10 and 100 millimetres (Map 3) for much of Western Australia. Rainfall totals of between 10 and 100 millimetres were also recorded across northern and central cropping regions in Queensland. Lighter falls of between 1 and 10 millimetres were recorded in cropping regions in New South Wales, Victoria, southern Queensland, South Australia and the Esperance region of Western Australia.

Map 3 Australian rainfall totals, 4 to 10 June 2019

Note: Rainfall totals are displayed for cropping regions only.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Map 4 and Map 5 show the relative levels of modelled upper layer (~0.1 metres) and lower layer (~0.1 to ~1 metres) soil moisture for cropping zones across Australia for May 2019. Soil moisture estimates are relative to the historical long-term average (1911 to 2015) and presented in percentiles.
Upper layer soil moisture responds quickly to seasonal conditions and often shows a pattern that reflects rainfall and temperature events in the days leading up to the analysis date. Lower layer soil moisture is a larger, deeper store that is slower to respond to seasonal conditions and tends to reflect the accumulated effects of events that have occurred over longer periods.

Relative upper layer soil moisture in May 2019 (Map 4) in Western Australia and eastern cropping areas in Queensland was mostly extremely low to well below average. Upper layer soil moisture in New South Wales ranged from extremely low in the central-west to well above average in the south. It was average to extremely high in most cropping regions in Victoria and South Australia. In the remaining parts of New South Wales and Queensland, upper layer soil moisture was average to below average.

Map 4 Upper layer soil moisture, May 2019

Note: Relative upper layer soil moisture is displayed for grain sorghum growing regions only. The extremely high band indicates where the estimated soil moisture level for May 2019 fell into the wettest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day each year between 1910 and 2015. The extremely low band indicates where the estimated soil moisture levels for May 2019 fell into the driest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day between 1910 and 2015.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

Relative lower layer soil moisture in May 2019 was extremely low to well below average in most cropping regions in Western Australia and many cropping regions in eastern Queensland, and north-eastern and central New South Wales. Lower layer soil moisture in Victoria, South Australia and the remaining cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland was mostly average but in some important growing regions it was well above average (Map 5).

Map 5 Lower layer soil moisture, May 2019

 

Note: Relative lower layer soil moisture is displayed for grain sorghum growing regions only. The extremely high band indicates where the estimated soil moisture level for May 2019 fell into the wettest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day each year between 1910 and 2015. The extremely low band indicates where the estimated soil moisture levels for May 2019 fell into the driest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day between 1910 and 2015.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 30 May 2019, there is no strong shift towards a wetter or drier than average three months across Western Australia. For other winter crop producing states the chance of exceeding median rainfall is quite low, however this does not mean that large areas of eastern Australia will receive no rainfall during winter.

There is still a significant chance that most areas unlikely to exceed median rainfall will receive rainfall totals sufficient to sustain crop production through until spring 2019. In cropping regions, there is a 75% chance of receiving between 25 and 100 millimetres across much of New South Wales and Victoria between June and August 2019 (Map 6). There is a similar probability of receiving between 50 and 200 millimetres for cropping regions in South Australia and Western Australia.

Across Queensland there is a 75% chance of receiving between 10 and 50 millimetres. In areas with low soil moisture these probable low three-month rainfall totals are unlikely to be sufficient to sustain crop production.

The outlook for maximum and minimum temperatures for June to August 2019 indicates hotter than average daytime temperatures are likely across all winter cropping regions. Night-time temperatures are also expected to be hotter than average in central and southern New South Wales, Victoria, northern Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Map 6 Rainfall totals that have a 75% chance of occurring, June to August 2019

 

Note: Rainfall outlook is displayed for cropping regions only.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Map 7 shows the shire-scale forecast of wheat yields obtained from the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). These forecasts are based on soil moisture conditions and the seasonal outlook, including the most recent trend in the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). The phase of the SOI, either positive or negative, tends to have its greatest influence on climatic patterns in eastern and northern Australia with limited influence in south-western Western Australia. It is important to note that final wheat crop yield, particularly in Western Australia, is affected more by in-crop rainfall and temperatures during crop growth than by soil moisture at the time of sowing.

At the beginning of May 2019, the forecast indicated a variable outlook for the 2019–20 wheat crop. Forecast yield outcomes in central and northern New South Wales, southern Queensland and across much of Western Australia are low and falling into the 10th to 40th percentile when compared to the historical median. Across remaining winter cropping areas forecast yield outcomes are generally close to the historical median or better.

Map 7 Forecast median wheat yield ranked relative to all years, 1 May 2019

 

Note: Forecast median wheat yield ranked relative to all years (%), given SOI phase was “near zero” during March and April.
Source: Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Table 4 Rainfall in major cropping districts, median and actual, March 2019 to May 2019
DistrictDistrict no.March median
mm
March 2019
mm
April median
mm
April
2019
mm
May median
mm
May 2019
mm
New South Wales
NW Plains (W)5235 46 25 1 26 26
NW Plains (E)5344 66 26 2 32 24
NW Slopes (N)5455 59 30 5 37 19
NW Slopes (S)5545 90 32 1 36 38
N Tablelands (N)5672 73 38 11 39 14
CW Plains (S)5026 32 23 2 28 22
CW Plains (N)5127 43 17 1 28 20
CW Slopes (N)6441 105 32 0 33 23
CW Slopes (S)6537 52 33 1 37 30
C Tablelands (N)6246 109 37 1 36 22
C Tablelands (S)6354 90 49 7 41 33
Riverina (W)7518 14 18 17 26 44
Riverina (E)7424 21 27 13 30 57
SW Slopes (N)7338 72 35 5 43 52
SW Slopes (S)7256 117 63 19 78 122
Victoria
N Mallee7613 2 14 1 25 29
S Mallee7714 2 17 1 31 47
N Wimmera7815 6 20 2 39 64
S Wimmera7920 9 29 6 51 90
Lower North8018 5 24 3 35 60
Upper North8124 8 30 5 48 78
Lower North East8252 78 55 20 86 142
North Central8839 17 55 11 68 115
Western Plains8931 18 39 14 55 110
West Coast9038 37 53 25 73 102
Queensland
Central Highlands3550 144 25 50 21 6
Maranoa4348 70 20 60 24 10
W Darling Downs4250 86 23 9 29 13
E Darling Downs4154 94 23 2 29 8
Moreton S Coast4098 161 56 56 48 28
South Australia
Upper South East25B14 7 29 8 45 58
 Murray Mallee25A10 2 15 4 30 32
Murray River2410 4 15 3 26 31
East Central2318 8 37 4 62 85
Yorke Peninsula22A12 3 24 4 44 62
Lower North2111 4 22 3 36 51
Upper North199 9 13 3 25 30
Western Agricultural189 2 17 8 25 34
Western Australia
North Coast810 4 15 12 44 3
Central Coast911 4 35 27 99 16
Northern Central1013 9 17 17 39 6
South Central10A15 23 23 18 48 13
South East1219 19 16 18 21 6

Note: Median rainfall is calculated over the period 1900 to May 2019. Australian rainfall districts are shown in Map 8 of the Australian crop report.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology monthly district rainfall reports

Map 8 Rainfall districts, Australia

Note: Displayed for major cropping districts only. See table 4 for district names and observed district rainfall.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

Statistical tables​​
Last reviewed:
11 Jun 2019