Climatic and agronomic conditions
Australian Crop Report: February edition
From November 2019 to January 2020, rainfall was severely deficient to well below average in cropping regions in Queensland and extremely low to average in northern New South Wales. (Map 1).
While rainfall from November 2019 to January 2020 was extremely low for most summer cropping areas, rainfall totals between 25 and 200 millimetres fell in the first 10 days of February in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales (Map 2). There were lighter falls of between 1 and 25 millimetres in northern cropping regions in Queensland.
Map 3 and Map 4 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 January 2019. Soil moisture estimates are relative to the historical long-term average (1911 to 2016) 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 levels in January 2020 (Map 3) in Queensland and northern New South Wales were mostly average or higher. There were some areas in both regions that were below average or lower.
Relative lower layer soil moisture levels in January 2020 were below average or lower in most cropping regions in Queensland and the southern part of the New South Wales summer cropping region. Lower layer soil moisture levels were around average in the remaining cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales (Map 4).
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 6 February 2020, rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales is more likely to be below average than above average, but the likelihood of below average rainfall is generally stronger in Queensland than northern New South Wales. There is no strong tendency toward either above or below average rainfall in the remaining summer cropping regions (Map 5).
The outlook for maximum and minimum temperatures for March to May 2019 indicates hotter than average daytime and night-time temperatures are likely in cropping regions in northern New South Wales and Queensland. In areas with sufficient soil moisture, these hotter than average temperatures will benefit crop growth and yield prospects particularly for crop sown later than the recommended planting window. However, in areas of below average soil moisture, below average rainfall and hotter than average temperature are likely to decrease crop prospects.