Queensland

​​​​​Australian Crop Report: February edition

Prospects for summer crop production in Queensland remain well below average because of the long period of well below average rainfall in most cropping regions. Seasonal conditions during December were more unfavourable than expected and depleted soil moisture levels in most cropping regions to well below average and to record lows in others. Substantial rainfall in late January and early February is expected to facilitate some additional planting of summer crops in central Queensland. However, this rainfall was generally too late for the additional planting of summer crops in southern Queensland. Some growers are expected to increase area planted to forage crops to avoid risks associated with carrying late planted grain crops through to harvest. Others will likely fallow their land in preparation for the upcoming winter crop season.

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 more likely than above average rainfall in most summer cropping regions in Queensland (Map 5). Temperatures in all summer cropping regions are likely to be higher than average.

Area planted to summer crops in Queensland is forecast to fall by 61% in 2019–20 to around 239,000 hectares. This is due to a significant fall in area planted to irrigated cotton and grain sorghum. Summer crop production is forecast to decrease by 69% to 459,000 tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to fall by 66% in 2019–20 to 130,000 hectares, the lowest on record. Grain sorghum production is forecast to fall by 74% to 260,000 tonnes, driven by the fall in planted area and an expected 23% fall in the average yield.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have decreased by 85% to 17,000 hectares in 2019–20, which is mainly comprised of irrigated cotton. Cotton production is forecast to decline by 77% to 37,000 tonnes of lint and around 53,000 tonnes of seed. The average yield is forecast to increase by 52% because nearly all the cotton planted is irrigated.

Rice production is forecast to remain largely unchanged at around 8,000 tonnes, constrained by local milling capacity. With the low level of rice production in New South Wales, Queensland production is expected to comprise around 15% of national production.

Table 6 Summer crop forecasts, Queensland, 2019–20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. Change
%
Grain sorghum 130 2.00 260 –66.2 –74.0
Cotton lint 17 2.14 37 –85.1 –77.3
Cottonseed 17 3.03 53 –85.1 –77.3

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 Queensland in 2019–20 is estimated to have fallen by 5% to around 678,000 tonnes, which is the third consecutive fall in annual production since the record high production in 2016-17. Production in most cropping regions was constrained by well below average rainfall and above average temperatures during the season.

Winter crop area is estimated to be 657,000 hectares, which is 42% below the 10-year average to 2018–19 of 1.1 million hectares. This reflects drier than average seasonal conditions at the beginning of the winter crop season. Some area planted to wheat and barley intended for grain production was cut for hay in response to high fodder prices and unfavourable seasonal conditions that increased the risk of grain production.

Wheat production is estimated to have increased by 5% in 2019–20 to 420,000 tonnes, but remains well below the 10-year average to 2018–19 of 1.2 million tonnes.

Barley production is estimated to be 60,000 tonnes, which is well below the 10-year average to 2018–19 of 214,000 tonnes. This resulted from below average winter rainfall in southern Queensland, where most barley is grown in the state.

Production of chickpeas is estimated to have been 170,000 tonnes. Area planted to chickpeas is estimated to have fallen by 15% to 170,000 hectares in response to lower prices and weaker import demand from India. Yields are estimated to have increased because almost all chickpeas are grown in central Queensland where seasonal conditions improved from last season.

Table 7 Winter crop forecasts, Queensland, 2019–20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 400 1.05 420 0.0 5.0
Barley 45 1.33 60 –35.7 –36.5
Chickpeas 170 1.00 170 –15.0 –10.5

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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