Australian Crop Report: December edition
Winter crop prospects in Western Australia appeared reasonable at the beginning of spring but deteriorated quickly. After below average winter rainfall and a late break to the season, crops needed average September rainfall to reach average yields, which was the initial rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology at the end of winter. However the initial outlook was revised and below average spring rainfall fell in most cropping regions, accompanied by well above average temperatures. Heat stress and low moisture adversely affected most winter crops in the state, especially in northern cropping regions such as Geraldton. Frost events during spring in the southern cropping areas reduced yield prospects for some wheat, barley and canola crops.
Winter crop production is forecast to fall by 35% in 2019–20 to 11.6 million tonnes. This reflects a 4% decrease in planted area to around 7.7 million hectares and expected falls in yields in all growing regions. Unfavourable seasonal conditions in the Geraldton region are pushing regional production towards its lowest total in a decade. Frost events in Albany and Esperance resulted in some wheat and canola crops being cut for hay.
Wheat production is forecast to fall by 41% in 2019–20 to around 6.0 million tonnes, reflecting a forecast 37% fall in the average yield. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have fallen by 6% to 4.4 million hectares.
Barley production is forecast to fall by 25% in 2019–20 to 3.7 million tonnes, largely reflecting a forecast 34% fall in the average yield from the high yield of last year. Area planted to barley is estimated to have risen by 14% to around 1.7 million hectares. Barley yields across the state held up a lot better than wheat over spring due to a lot of barley being grown in the southern cropping regions, where seasonal conditions were slightly more favourable.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 35% in 2019–20 to 950,000 tonnes. The late break to the season and higher than average temperatures caused yields to be below average. Additionally, planted area is estimated to have fallen by 22% to 940,000 hectares.
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.