Australian Crop Report: September edition
Area planted to winter crops in central and northern New South Wales was well below average reflecting the prolonged hotter and drier than average conditions leading into the planting window. Winter rainfall was generally below to very much below average in all cropping regions in New South Wales, and in some northern cropping regions, was the lowest on record. After a promising start to the winter crop season in southern New South Wales, winter rainfall was generally below average and soil moisture levels fell significantly. The low levels of soil moisture mean early spring rainfall will be critical for grain development in regions that still had viable crops at the start of spring.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 31 August 2019, spring rainfall is likely to be below average in cropping regions in New South Wales.
The unfavourable outlook for seasonal conditions during spring mean crop prospects in regions where winter crops have little soil moisture will likely deteriorate further.
Winter crop production is forecast to rise to 5.1 million tonnes in 2019–20, an increase of 77% from the previous season but around 51% below the 10 year average to 2018–19.
Area planted to winter crops in New South Wales is estimated to be 3.7 million hectares in 2019-20. Although this is an increase from the very low planted area in 2018–19, it is well below average, which reflects prolonged drier and hotter than average seasonal conditions in major cropping regions. Area planted in central and northern New South Wales is very low. Additionally, some winter crops with adequate biomass in southern cropping regions are likely to be cut for hay, reflecting current high hay prices and the risk of grain yields falling significantly during a hotter and drier than average spring.
Wheat production is forecast to be 3.2 million tonnes in 2019–20. The average wheat yield is forecast to be below average at 1.45 tonnes per hectare. Although crops in some parts of southern New South Wales currently have the potential to achieve average yields, most crops in central and northern New South Wales will yield well below average if these make it through to harvest. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have increased from the very low area planted in 2018–19 but is 32% below the 10 year average to 2018–19.
Barley production is forecast to be 1.1 million tonnes in 2019–20, 33% below the 10 year average to 2018–19. The average barley yield is forecast to be 1.6 tonnes per hectare, which is below average. Area planted to barley is estimated to be 700,000 hectares, 14% below the ten year average to 2018–19.
Canola production is forecast to reach 370,000 tonnes in 2019–20. The average yield is forecast to be well below average at 1 tonne per hectare as a result of below average winter rainfall. Area planted to canola is estimated to be 370,000 hectares with the majority of area planted in southern New South Wales. Some canola crops will be cut for hay as growers mitigate the risk of crops failing because of unfavourable seasonal conditions during spring.
Table 5 Winter crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2019−20
|Wheat ||2,200 ||1.45 ||3,190 ||22 ||77 |
|Barley ||700 ||1.60 ||1,120 ||17 ||78 |
|Canola ||370 ||1.00 ||370 ||95 ||143 |
Note: Yields are based on area planted. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.
Area planted to summer crops in New South Wales is forecast to be the lowest on record at around 230, 000 hectares. This is because prolonged hotter and drier than average seasonal conditions have reduced soil moisture levels in summer cropping regions in New South Wales to close to zero and supplies of irrigation water are very low. It would take a significant rainfall event for the summer crop outlook in New South Wales to improve.
Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to be very much below average at around 50,000 hectares. Significant spring and early summer rainfall will be required for grain sorghum planting to occur but the rainfall outlook for spring is not favourable. The large area of fallow land available because of the poor winter cropping season in northern New South Wales and high demand for feed grain will provide a strong incentive to plant grain sorghum if there is a significant rainfall event during the planting window.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 56% to 100,000 hectares in 2019–20. This is due to reduced water levels in irrigation dams serving New South Wales cotton growing regions. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 35% to 208,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 294,000 tonnes of cottonseed in 2019–20. The average yield is forecast to increase by 47% because all cotton planted is expected to be irrigated.
Area planted to rice is forecast to remain largely unchanged at low levels in response to ongoing low supplies of irrigation water.
Table 6 Summer crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2019−20
|Grain sorghum ||50 ||2.80 ||140 ||–55 ||–49 |
|Cotton lint ||100 ||2.08 ||208 ||–56 ||–35 |
|Cottonseed ||100 ||2.94 ||294 ||–56 ||–35 |
|Rice ||5 ||10.37 ||52 ||25 ||–4 |
Note: Yields are based on area planted, except cotton which is based on area harvested. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.