Queensland

​​​​​Australian Crop Report: December edition

Harvesting of winter crops in Queensland is now largely complete. Winter crop production in 2019–20 is estimated to have fallen by 5% to around 678,000 tonnes, the third consecutive year of falling winter crop production in Queensland since record high production was achieved in 2016-17. If the forecast for 2019–20 is realised, this will be the lowest production since 1994–95, when 312,000 tonnes was produced. Around 10% of area planted to wheat and barley for grain production was cut for hay in response to high fodder prices and unfavourable seasonal conditions increasing the risk of grain production.

Seasonal conditions in southern Queensland and parts of central Queensland in September and October were generally poor. Rainfall was well below average in most cropping regions outside of small parts of the south east and central Queensland.

Wheat production is estimated to have increased by 5% in 2019–20 to 420,000 tonnes. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have remained at 400,000 hectares. The average yield is estimated to have risen by 5% to 1.05 tonnes per hectare. The average yield increased because almost all crops harvested were grown in central Queensland, which received well above average rainfall in July 2019.

Barley production is estimated to have fallen by 37% in 2019–20 to 60,000 tonnes. Area planted to barley is estimated to have fallen by 36% to 45,000 hectares due to lower than average rainfall in southern Queensland, where most barley is grown in the state.

Production of chickpeas is estimated to have declined by 11% in 2019–20 to 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 6 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 5
Barley 45 1.33 60 –36 –37
Chickpeas 170 1.00 170 –15 –11

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

Prospects for summer crop production in Queensland are poor because of the long period of below average rainfall in most cropping regions and an unfavourable outlook for seasonal conditions over summer. Average winter rainfall improved soil moisture levels north of Emerald to facilitate some planting of summer crops. But even in this region, above average rainfall is needed between now and February 2020 to support further summer crop planting, which is unlikely given the latest three-month season outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. Additionally, low water levels in dams servicing cotton producers will constrain planting of irrigated cotton. As a result, for most summer crops, area planted is forecast to fall from 2018–19 levels.

Area planted to summer crops in Queensland is forecast to fall by 42% in 2019–20 to around 356,000 hectares. This is due to a significant forecast fall in area planted to irrigated cotton and grain sorghum. Summer crop production is forecast to more than halve to 684,000 tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to fall by 48% in 2019–20 to 200,000 hectares, the lowest on record. Grain sorghum production is forecast to fall by 68% in 2019–20 to 320,000 tonnes largely because of the forecast fall in planted area. Additionally, the average yield is forecast to fall by 38% to 1.6 tonnes per hectare because of the unfavourable seasonal conditions expected over summer.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 74% to 30,000 hectares in 2019–20, which is expected to be mainly comprised of irrigated cotton. Cotton production is forecast to decline by 61% to 63,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 89,000 tonnes of cottonseed in 2019–20. The average yield is forecast to increase by 50% as a result of the expected dominance of irrigated cotton in planted area.

Area planted to rice is forecast to remain largely unchanged at 1,200 hectares due to milling capacity constraints. Production is forecast to be around 8,000 tonnes and with the low level of rice production in New South Wales, Queensland production is expected to comprise around 15% of national production.

Table 7 Summer crop forecasts, Queensland, 2019–20
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Grain sorghum 200 1.60 320 –48 –68
Cotton lint 30 2.10 63 –74 –61
Cottonseed 30 2.97 89 –74 –61

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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