National overview

​​Australian Crop Report: September edition

Prospects for Australian winter crop production in 2019–20 deteriorated over winter because of unfavourable growing conditions in some regions, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland.

Crop prospects vary considerably between the states. In Victoria, most crops are in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring as a result of generally favourable growing conditions over winter. Timely winter rainfall in Western Australia boosted yield prospects to around average for most crops in the state after a late break to the season. Crop prospects in South Australia are mixed but sufficient winter rainfall fell in most major southern growing regions and the Mid-North for crops in these regions to be in reasonable condition at the beginning of spring. However, crop prospects are generally below average in most northern cropping regions in South Australia. Seasonal conditions were very unfavourable in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland and winter crop production in these states is forecast to be very much below average.

As in every season, early spring rainfall will be important to final crop outcomes. According to the latest seasonal outlook, issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 29 August 2019, September rainfall is likely to be above average in Western Australia and below average in most other cropping regions. October rainfall is likely to be below average in most cropping regions.

Winter crop production is forecast to rise by 11% in 2019–20 to 33.9 million tonnes, which is a downward revision of 7% from the forecast ABARES published in June. Forecast production is around 16% below the 10 year average to 2018–19.

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 10% to around 19.1 million tonnes, 22% below the 10 year average to 2018–19. Barley production is forecast to increase by 14% to around 9.5 million tonnes, 6% above the 10 year average to 2018–19. Canola production is forecast to increase by 6% to around 2.3 million tonnes, 29% below the 10 year average to 2018–19.

Total area planted to winter crops is estimated to have increased by 6% in 2019–20 to around 19.1 million hectares. This reflects the large amount of crop area that was taken out of grain production in 2018–19 and cut for hay.

Table 1 Winter crop production, Australia, 2009–10 to 2019–20
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
2009–10kt 7787 5,889 1,617 7,035 12,943 35,343
2010–11kt 14784 7,625 1,821 9,316 8,044 41,672
2011–12kt 11,952 7,352 2,329 7,371 16,600 45,670
2012–13kt 11,123 6,886 2,156 6,470 11,243 37,934
2013–14kt 9,773 6,773 1,516 7,221 16,510 41,878
2014–15kt 10,445 5,117 1,464 7,439 14,662 39,197
2015–16kt 11,624 3,568 2,104 6,105 14,206 37,687
2016–17kt 15,510 9,513 3,159 10,661 17,737 56,678
2017–18kt 7,744 7,612 1,438 7,022 14,510 38,396
2018–19 skt 2,880 3,733 714 5,286 17,729 30,433
2019–20 fkt 5,103 6,925 732 6,604 14,404 33,866
% change 2018–19 to 2019–2077 86 2 25 -19 11

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.

Notes: Includes barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils, linseed, lupins, oats, safflower, triticale and wheat. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16.

Table 2 Winter crop area, Australia, 2009–10 to 2019–20
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
2009–10'000 ha 6,106 3,488 1,173 3,783 8,271 22,844
2010–11'000 ha 6,158 3,457 1,217 3,821 7,715 22,392
2011–12'000 ha 5,969 3,411 1,205 3,838 8,252 22,693
2012–13'000 ha 5,852 3,457 1,222 3,776 8,097 22,421
2013–14'000 ha 5,314 3,283 1,105 3,448 8,249 21,419
2014–15'000 ha 5,491 3,304 995 3,639 8,313 21,760
2015–16'000 ha 5,375 2,915 1,049 3,152 7,771 20,283
2016–17'000 ha 6,062 3,231 1,375 3,904 8,531 23,126
2017–18'000 ha 5,489 3,509 1,302 3,645 7,898 21,861
2018–19 s'000 ha 2,971 2,903 715 3,326 8,050 17,987
2019–20 f'000 ha 3,668 3,301 732 3,612 7,804 19,141
% change 2018–19 to 2019–20-23 14 2 9 -3 6

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.

Notes: Includes barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils, linseed, lupins, oats, safflower, triticale and wheat. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.

Area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 28% in 2019–20 to around 758,000 hectares. This reflects low levels of soil moisture and an outlook for unfavourable seasonal conditions during spring in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to decline by 21% in 2019–20 to 391,000 hectares, which is 30% below the ten year average to 2018–19. This forecast fall is due to low soil moisture levels in southern Queensland, which are expected to fall further during spring. However, this is partially offset by improved soil moisture levels and favourable seasonal conditions forecast for spring in some parts of central Queensland. Additionally, falling cotton prices are likely to result in a shift from dry land cotton to grain sorghum. Production is forecast to fall by 22% to 992,000 tonnes. Yields are assumed to average slightly lower than in 2018–19.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 58% to 145,000 hectares because dams servicing cotton growing regions have significantly less water than last year. Area forecast to be planted to cotton is the lowest since 2007–08, when 63,000 hectares was planted. Production is forecast to decline by 39% to around 294,000 tonnes of lint and 416,000 tonnes of cottonseed. Lint yields are forecast to average higher because almost all planting is expected to be irrigated.

Area planted to rice is forecast to remain largely unchanged at low levels in response to low water allocations.

Table 3 Summer crop area and production, Australia, 2009–10 to 2019–20
YearNew South WalesQueenslandAustralia
'000 hakt'000 hakt'000 hakt
2009–10381 1405 514 1342 903 2764
2010–11713 2514790 1901 1514 4446
2011–12757 3064 783 2379 1556 5488
2012–13711 3205 686 2250 1411 5506
2013–14568 2317 559 1469 1139 3846
2014–15435 2044 696 2134 1149 4263
2015–16412 1656624 1821 1054 3562
2016–17662 2286 566 1280 1247 3667
2017–18614 2239 649 1648 1283 3984
2018–19 s425 1019617 1493 1056 2593
2019–20 f230 730 514 1270 758 2076
% change 2018–19 to 2019–20-46 -28 -17 -15 -28 -20

s ABARES estimate.

Note: State production includes cottonseed, grain sorghum, corn (maize), mung beans, rice, peanuts, soybeans and sunflowers. Total for Australia also includes navy beans, and small areas and volumes of summer crops in other states. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.

Statistical tables

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Last reviewed:
09 Sep 2019