New South Wales

Australian Crop Report: February edition

Seasonal conditions for summer crop production in 2019–20 have been extremely unfavourable. Prolonged drought conditions resulted in record low soil moisture levels during the planting window, which limited the area planted to summer crops. December rainfall was below average across the State, and at record lows in many summer cropping areas. Record high temperatures occurred in almost all of New South Wales during December, with repeated bursts of days with above average temperatures. This followed an unfavourable spring during which temperatures were very much above average and rainfall very much below average. Although rainfall in January and early February boosted soil moisture and improve yield prospects for earlier planted crops, it was generally too late to encourage any significant late planting.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 6 February 2020, below average rainfall is slightly more likely than above average rainfall in most summer cropping regions in New South Wales (Map 5). Temperatures in all summer cropping regions are likely to be higher than average.

Area planted to summer crops in New South Wales is estimated to have decreased by 76% in 2019–20 to a record low 101,000 hectares. Very low supplies of irrigation water and record low soil moisture in many regions prevented widespread planting of summer crops. Total summer crop production is forecast to fall by 66% to a record low 343,000 tonnes in 2019–20.

Area planted to grain sorghum in 2019–20 is estimated to be a record low of 12,000 hectares. Soil moisture levels were extremely low at the start of summer and significant widespread rainfall was needed for planting to occur. However, December and early January rainfall was below to very much below average and temperatures were record high. Yields are forecast to be below average and grain sorghum production expected to be around 30,000 tonnes, 89% lower than in 2018–19.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have decreased by 81% to 43,000 hectares in 2019–20 due to low supplies of irrigation water during the planting window and insufficient levels of soil moisture to plant dryland cotton. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 70% to 98,000 tonnes of lint and around 138,000 tonnes of seed. The average yield is forecast to increase by 60% because nearly all cotton planted this season is irrigated.

Rice production in 2019–20 is forecast to fall marginally to 46,000 tonnes because of high water prices and low availability of irrigation water.

Table 4 Summer crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2019−20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Grain sorghum 12 2.50 30 –89 –89
Cotton lint 43 2.27 98 –81 –70
Cottonseed 43 3.21 138 –81 –70
Rice 3.4 13.50 46 –15 –15

​​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. Percent change are relative to last year.
Sources: ABARES

Winter crop production in New South Wales is estimated to have increased by 16% to under 3.4 million tonnes in 2019–20. Despite the increase this is 68% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Area planted to winter crops was 44% below the 10-year average to 2018–19 reflecting very unfavourable seasonal conditions and a significant area intended for grain and oilseed production being cut for hay as seasonal conditions deteriorated.

Wheat production in 2019–20 is estimated to have increased by 16% to around 2.1 million tonnes. However, estimated productions is 69% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have been 1.9 million hectares.

Barley production is estimated to have increased by 10% in 2019–20 to just below 700,000 tonnes. The average barley yield is estimated to be 41% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Area planted to barley fell by 3% to 580,000 hectares.

Canola production is estimated to be 225,000 tonnes in 2019–20, 75% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. The average yield is forecast to be well below average at 0.9 tonnes per hectare. Area planted to canola is estimated to have been 250,000 hectares, 60% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. A significant number of canola crops were cut for hay in early spring as the risk of crops failing before harvest rose.

Table 5 Winter crop estimates, New South Wales, 2019−20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 1,900 1.10 2,090 6 16
Barley 580 1.20 696 –3 10
Canola 250 0.90 225 32 48

Note: Yields are based on area planted. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed. Percent change are relative to last year.
Sources: ABARES

Statistical tables​​​


 
Last reviewed: 17 February 2020
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