New South Wales

Australian Crop Report: December edition

Less than half of average rainfall fell in New South Wales from January to October 2019, the lowest for the first 10 months of the year since 1940. While spring rainfall was forecast at the beginning of spring to be below average, conditions that eventuated in many cropping regions were worse than expected.

The prolonged period of well below average rainfall had a significant impact on crop production in New South Wales.

Winter crop production in New South Wales is forecast to be 3.6 million tonnes in 2019–20, around 65% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Many crops intended for grain and oilseed production were cut for hay during spring in response to high fodder prices and uncertainty about enough spring rainfall falling to keep crops viable.

Wheat production is forecast to be 2.3 million tonnes in 2019–20, 67% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. The average wheat yield is forecast to be 1.2 tonnes per hectare, which is 42% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Crops across New South Wales achieved below average yields and most crops that made it through to harvest in central and northern New South Wales achieved well below average yields. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have increased from the very low area planted in 2018–19 but was still 41% below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Barley production is forecast to be 725,000 tonnes in 2019–20, 57% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. The average barley yield is forecast to be 1.25 tonnes per hectare, which is 38% below the 10-year average to 2018–19. Area planted to barley is estimated to be 580,000 hectares, 28% below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Canola production is forecast to reach 225,000 tonnes in 2019–20. The average yield is forecast to be well below average at 0.9 tonnes per hectare. Area planted to canola is estimated to be 250,000 hectares with the majority of this in southern New South Wales. A significant number of canola crops were cut for hay in early spring as the risk of crops failing before harvest rose.

Table 4 Winter crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2019−20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 1,900 1.20 2,280 6 27
Barley 580 1.25 725 -3 15
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

Summer crop prospects in northern New South Wales are currently extremely poor. Soil moisture levels are extremely low following the prolonged period of well below average rainfall and the outlook for seasonal conditions during summer is unfavourable. Additionally, supplies of irrigation water are low.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (December to February), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 21 November 2019, summer rainfall is likely to be below average in summer cropping regions of New South Wales and daytime temperatures very likely to be above average.

Area planted to summer crops in New South Wales is forecast to be the lowest on record at 166,000 hectares. It would take significant summer rainfall for the summer crop outlook in New South Wales to improve. However, this not likely given the latest three-month season outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to be very much below the 10-year average at 40,000 hectares. Production, at 76,000 tonnes, is also expected to be well below average. The large area of fallow land available because of the poor winter cropping season in northern New South Wales and high grain sorghum prices would provide a strong incentive to plant grain sorghum if there is significant rainfall during the planting window. However, significant rainfall over summer appears unlikely.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 77% to 52,000 hectares in 2019–20 because of the low water levels in irrigation dams serving New South Wales cotton growing regions. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 64% to 114,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 162,000 tonnes of cottonseed. The average yield is forecast to increase by 55% because most cotton planted is expected to be irrigated.

Area planted to rice is forecast to remain largely unchanged at 3,400 hectares, in response to high water prices and low availability of irrigation water.

Table 5 Summer crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2019−20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Grain sorghum 40 1.90 76 –64 –72
Cotton lint 52 2.20 114 –77 –64
Cottonseed 52 3.11 162 –77 –64
Rice 3 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

Statistical tables​​​


 
Last reviewed: 2 December 2019
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