Australian Crop Report: September edition
Winter rainfall was below average in most cropping areas in Western Australia. Low levels of soil moisture and a late break to the season set most crops off to a slow start. Average to above average June rainfall increased soil moisture levels and yield prospects in most cropping regions. Rainfall in July and August was below average. Timely rainfall in late August has supported average yield prospects for most cereal crops. Many crops developed at a slower than average rate over winter due to the late start, increasing the risk of heat stress during spring if warmer and drier than average seasonal conditions occur.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November 2019), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 29 August 2019, September has a high chance to exceed median rainfall in most of the cropping regions and October is likely to be drier than average. Above average rainfall in September will give cereal crops a strong chance to achieve average to above average yields.
Area planted to winter crops is estimated to have fallen by 3% to 7.8 million hectares in 2019–20. Winter crop production is forecast to fall by 19% to 14.4 million tonnes, which is around the 10 year average to 2018–19. Yields are expected to be lower than in 2018–19.
Wheat production is forecast to fall by 21% in 2019–20 to 8.1 million tonnes largely reflecting a forecast 16% fall in the average yield. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have fallen by 5% to 4.5 million hectares. This is due to low levels of soil moisture discouraging planting in some regions, particularly more marginal cropping northern cropping regions.
Barley production is forecast to fall by 14% in 2019–20 to 4.3 million tonnes, largely reflecting a forecast 24% 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. Expected higher margins from growing barley relative to production alternatives provided an incentive to increase planted area.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 31% in 2019–20 to 1.0 million tonnes. The late break to the season is expected to result in a fall in yields to below average. Additionally, planted area is estimated to have fallen by 18% to 1.0 million hectares. Low levels of soil moisture during the canola planting window and higher expected returns from growing barley reduced the attractiveness of growing canola for many growers.
Note: Yields are based on area planted. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.