Australian Crop Report: September edition
Seasonal conditions were generally favourable for crop development during winter in Victoria. Rainfall in most cropping regions was sufficient to put most cereal and canola crops in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring. Soil moisture levels in most parts of the Wimmera, North Central and Western districts at the beginning of spring were at, or above, average, which is expected to support grain formation in these regions. The major exception to these favourable seasonal conditions was in the northern Mallee where winter rainfall was below average and soil moisture levels fell to be below average at the beginning of spring.
According to the latest three-month seasonal outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 30 August 2019, rainfall in September and October is unlikely to exceed median and temperatures are likely to be warmer than average in September and around average in October.
The seasonal conditions that are most likely over spring will lower soil moisture levels in September and adversely affect yield prospects in regions where soil moisture was below average at the beginning of spring, particularly in the northern Mallee. Cropping regions with soil moisture levels at or above average at the beginning of spring will be in better condition and benefit most from timely rainfall and average temperatures in October.
Winter crop production in Victoria is forecast to increase by 86% in 2019–20 to around 6.9 million tonnes. This mostly reflects an expected increase in yields, driven by favourable seasonal conditions over most of the season. This forecast production increase also partly reflects a 14% increase in area planted after significant area was taken out of grain production and cut for hay in 2018–19. Some winter crops in regions with low soil moisture levels are likely to be cut for hay this year, given currently high hay prices and prospects of below average rainfall in September. However, this practice is not expected to be as widespread in 2019–20 as it was last year.
Wheat production is forecast to increase by 85% in 2019–20 to 3.6 million tonnes reflecting an expected increase in the average yield. Yield prospects are forecast to be average to above average in most cropping regions, with the exception of the northern Mallee, and be a significant improvement on last year. The production increase also reflects an estimated 14% increase in area planted to wheat to around 1.6 million hectares.
Barley production is forecast to increase by 91% in 2019–20 to around 2.1 million tonnes, with a significant increase in the average yield from last season expected.
Canola production is forecast to increase by 107% in 2019–20 to around 620,000 tonnes after significant areas of canola were cut for hay last year. Area intended for oilseed production is forecast to increase by 33% and yields forecast to increase by 55%.
Note: Yields are based on area planted. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.