Australian Crop Report: December edition
At the start of spring many crops in the north-west cropping region of New South Wales had failed and many crops in the central west cropping region needed favourable seasonal conditions in early spring to avert failure. However, rainfall during September was below average and temperatures above average. Additionally, frost events in late August and September damaged some crops in southern cropping regions and high fodder prices provided a strong incentive for producers to cut frost affected crops for hay, particularly canola.
October and November rainfall boosted crop prospects in the south-east cropping region and yields in this region are forecast to be close to average. However, this rainfall was too late to benefit crops in most other regions. November rainfall has interrupted harvest but to date has not adversely affected crop quality.
Winter crop production is forecast to decrease by 57% in 2018–19 to around 3.1 million tonnes. Forecast production is the lowest since 1994–95.
Wheat production is forecast to decrease by 56% in 2018–19 to just below 2 million tonnes. Forecast production is the lowest since 1994–95. The average yield is forecast to decrease by 24% to 1.1 tonnes per hectare and area planted is estimated to have fallen by 42% to 1.8 million hectares.
Barley production is forecast to fall by 40% in 2018–19 to just over 700,000 tonnes. The average yield is forecast to be 1.18 tonnes per hectare, 42% below the 10-year average to 2017–18. Area planted is estimated to have fallen by 24% to 600,000 hectares.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 75% in 2018–19 to around 150,000 tonnes. Well below average rainfall and severe frost events in late August and September resulted in large areas being cut for silage and hay. It is estimated that more than half of the area planted to canola was abandoned, grazed or cut for hay.
Table 5 Winter crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2018−19
|Crop||Area||Yield||Production||Area change||Prod. change|
Note: Yields are based on area planted.
In 2018–19 area planted to summer crops in New South Wales is forecast to fall by 23% to around 475,000 hectares, largely reflecting falls in the area planted to cotton and rice. Summer crop production in New South Wales is forecast at just over 1.5 million tonnes.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (December to February), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 29 November 2018, there is no strong tendency toward either higher or lower than average summer rainfall in most summer cropping regions in New South Wales. Given this, ABARES has assumed summer rainfall will be around average.
In 2018–19 area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to increase by 20% to around 180,000 hectares. October and November rainfall increased soil moisture levels across northern New South Wales and was timely for sowing of some crops. However, because soil moisture levels were very low in many regions, further rainfall during the planting window will be critical for planting intentions to be fully realised, particularly in the north-west cropping region.
Grain sorghum production is forecast to increase by 26% in 2018–19 to around 540,000 tonnes. At this stage, prospects for grain sorghum yields are better in the north-eastern summer cropping region, where most grain sorghum is being planted in New South Wales this season. Elsewhere, given the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts for December to February rainfall and low soil moisture at the end of November, prospects are not currently high of yields being average or above. The state average grain sorghum yield is forecast to be higher than the very poor yielding 2017–18 crop but 4% below the five year average to 2017–18.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by around 44% to 174,000 hectares in 2018–19, comprised of 140,000 hectares of irrigated area and 34,000 hectares of dryland area. This forecast fall is driven by dam and soil moisture levels being very low because of below average rainfall in 2018. Cotton production in New South Wales is forecast to decline by 43% in 2018–19 to 371,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 525,000 tonnes of cottonseed.
Area planted to rice is forecast to fall by 75% to 15,000 hectares in 2018–19 reflecting low water allocations in the Murray Valley and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Rice production is forecast to be 156,000 tonnes.
Table 6 Summer crop estimates, New South Wales, 2018−19
|Crop||Area||Yield||Production||Area change||Prod. change |
Note: Yields are based on area planted, except cotton which is based on area harvested.