National overview

​​Australian Crop Report: February edition

Drier and warmer than average seasonal conditions in the cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales during December and January reduced prospects of summer crop production in 2018–19. The unfavourable seasonal conditions curtailed the planting of dryland summer crops in the latter part of the planting window, lowered soil moisture levels and reduced yield prospects of dryland crops. Soil moisture levels are well below average in many summer cropping regions and sufficient and timely rainfall over the remainder of the season will be important to the ongoing development of dryland crops.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 14 February 2019, rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales is more likely to be below average than above average but this likelihood is generally stronger in Queensland. There is no strong tendency toward either above or below average rainfall in the remaining summer cropping regions.

Planting of summer crops is now largely complete and total area planted to summer crops is estimated to have decreased by 23% in 2018–19 to around 1.0 million hectares. This is a 6% downward revision from the forecast ABARES published in the December 2018 Australian crop report. The lower estimate of planted area resulted from forecast planting of grain sorghum late in the planting window not taking place because of unfavourable seasonal conditions. Total summer crop production is forecast to decrease by 33% to around 2.7 million tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to have risen marginally in 2018–19 to 537,000 hectares. Late season planting was minimal because of low soil moisture levels and unfavourable seasonal conditions in Queensland. Generally unfavourable conditions in most summer cropping regions are expected to constrain the average yield and production is forecast to fall by 9% to 1.3 million tonnes.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 44% in 2018–19 to 280,000 hectares. This is due to below average rainfall in 2018 resulting in a significant fall in water levels in irrigation dams serving cotton-growing regions and low soil moisture levels preventing the planting of dryland cotton. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 42% to 581,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 821,000 tonnes of cottonseed.

Rice production is forecast to fall by 83% to 104,000 tonnes in 2018–19 because of low water allocations and high water prices in southern New South Wales.

Table 1 Summer crop production, Australia, 2008–09 to 2018–19
YearNew South WalesQueenslandAustralia
'000 hakt'000 hakt'000 hakt
2008–094021,4307462,3501,1563,794
2009–103811,4055141,3429032,764
2010–117132,5147901,9011,5144,446
2011–127573,0647832,3791,5585,494
2012–137113,2056862,2501,4125,506
2013–145682,3175591,4691,1393,846
2014–154352,0446962,1341,1494,263
2015–164121,6566241,8211,0543,562
2016–176622,2865661,2801,2473,667
2017–18 s6142,2627111,8141,3354,103
2018–19 f4191,2386061,4751,0342,743
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19–32–45–15–19–23–33

f ABARES forecast. 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.

Harvesting of 2018–19 winter crops is largely complete and better than expected yields in Western Australia boosted production above the forecast ABARES published in the December 2018 edition of Australian crop report. However, crop yields in other states are estimated to have been well below average.

Total Australian winter crop production is estimated to have decreased by 20% in 2018–19 to 30.4 million tonnes. This estimate represents a 4% upward revision to the December 2018 Australian crop report forecast, driven by the better than expected production in Western Australia.

Production of all the major crops is estimated to have fallen, wheat by 19% to 17.3 million tonnes, barley by 7% to 8.3 million tonnes and canola by 41% to 2.2 million tonnes. Amongst other crops, chickpea production is estimated to have fallen by 76% to 281,000 tonnes and oats production by 21% to 888,000 tonnes.

Winter crop area is estimated to have fallen by 18% in 2018–19 to 18.2 million hectares.

Table 2 Winter crop production, Australia, 1998–99 to 2018–19
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
1998–99kt97183,5072,3236,30412,23334,160
1999–00kt115265,2522,2214,77013,31237,143
2000–01kt108296,2661,3397,4298,72434,663
2001–02kt111705,8931,1568,79612,04239,134
2002–03kt34851,9438294,2236,81217,361
2003–04kt107956,9611,4507,35916,67643,315
2004–05kt107124,2141,3915,29812,97834,671
2005–06kt119816,2671,4337,51813,94541,226
2006–07kt37941,7489242,7938,27817,580
2007–08kt39994,6921,1944,70610,76125,415
2008–09kt94383,8872,3264,86313,78534,378
2009–10kt77875,8891,6177,03512,94335,344
2010–11kt147847,6251,8219,3168,04441,672
2011–12kt11,9527,3522,3297,37116,60045,670
2012–13kt11,1236,8862,1566,47011,24337,934
2013–14kt9,7736,7731,5167,22116,51041,878
2014–15kt10,4455,1171,4647,43914,66239,197
2015–16kt11,6243,5682,1046,10514,20637,687
2016–17kt15,5109,5133,15910,66117,73756,678
2017–18 skt7,2287,6521,4636,94514,61937,963
2018–19 skt2,8673,7447175,27317,71230,406
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19 –60–51–51–2421–20
% change 2018–19 to lowest production –1893–132516075

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 3 Winter crop area, Australia, 2008–09 to 2018–19
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
2008–09'000 ha6,2953,4921,2083,9797,89922,901
2009–10'000 ha6,1063,4881,1733,7838,27122,844
2010–11'000 ha6,1583,4571,2173,8217,71522,392
2011–12'000 ha5,9693,4111,2053,8388,25222,693
2012–13'000 ha5,8523,4571,2223,7768,09722,421
2013–14'000 ha5,3143,2831,1053,4488,24921,419
2014–15'000 ha5,4913,3049953,6398,31321,760
2015–16'000 ha5,3752,9151,0493,1527,77120,283
2016–17'000 ha6,0623,2311,3753,9048,53123,126
2017–18 s'000 ha5,4963,3331,3093,5058,44122,101
2018–19 s'000 ha2,9432,9037173,3158,29718,198
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19 –46–13–45–5–2–18

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.

Statistical tables

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Last reviewed:
22 Mar 2019