New South Wales

Australian Crop Report: June edition

Climatic conditions at the start of the 2021–22 winter cropping season in New South Wales were excellent. February rainfall was above to very much above average in most winter cropping regions. March rainfall was more than double the average for most of New South Wales (with the exception of the south west) and was the second highest on record, resulting in flooding in many parts of eastern New South Wales. Rainfall was in the highest 10% of historical records (decile 10) for most of the eastern half of the state and much of the north. April and May rainfall was below to very much below average, particularly in southern New South Wales, resulting in the loss of upper layer soil moisture. The majority of winter crops in New South Wales will be planted into soils with high levels of moisture, particularly in central and northern cropping regions. If average winter rainfall is received, crop prospects will be strong at the beginning of spring.

The most significant agricultural impact of the mouse plague on plantings in New South Wales has been to increase baiting costs and preventing damages to crop development. There has also been significant costs incurred to prevent damages to grain and hay stored on farms in New South Wales from the record winter crop harvest of 2020–21. This comes as significant increase in on-farm storages and some congestion in the export supply chain means that stored grain may have been exposed to possible contamination, depending on the storage method.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 3 June 2021, winter rainfall is most likely to be above average in cropping regions in New South Wales.

Area planted to winter crops in New South Wales in 2021–22 is forecast to be just over 6 million hectares, similar to the area planted in 2020–21. A good season break, particularly in northern and north western cropping regions in New South Wales is forecast to lead to some area being shifted out of cereals and into canola and chickpeas. Winter crop yields are forecast to fall from the record highs in 2020–21 but still be above average in 2021–22, reflecting the excellent levels of soil moisture at the time of planting and the winter rainfall outlook. Winter crop production is forecast to fall by 30% from the record high in 2020–21 to around 13.1 million tonnes because of the expected fall in yields.

Area planted to wheat is forecast to fall by 3% in 2021–22 to around 3.7 million hectares, which is still 19% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Wheat production is forecast to fall to 8.9 million tonnes in 2021–22, mainly because of an expected fall in yields from the very high yields achieved last year. Forecast production is 32% above the 10-year average to 2020–21.

Area planted to barley is forecast to fall by 5% to 900,000 hectares. Production is forecast to fall by 35% to 2.1 million tonnes. Despite yields being forecast to be above average at this early stage of the season, they are still below the record high yields achieved in 2020–21.

Area planted to canola is forecast to increase by 27% to around 700,000 hectares in 2021–22, reflecting the high availability of soil moisture and very high canola prices. The average yield is forecast to be above the 10-year average to 2020–21, resulting in production of just over 1 million tonnes.

Table 4 Winter crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2021−22

Crop
Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 3,700 2.40 8,880 –3 –32
Barley 900 2.35 2,115 –5 –35
Canola 700 1.50 1,050 27 –2

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

Summer crop production is estimated to have increased significantly in New South Wales in 2020–21 compared to the drought affected production in 2019–20. Increased availability of irrigation water and improved seasonal conditions for all summer crops is estimated to have resulted in total production of around 1.8 million tonnes, nearly five times what was produced the previous year.

Grain sorghum production is estimated to have been 520,000 tonnes in 2020–21, compared to just 79,000 tonnes in 2019–20. Contamination of sorghum crops harvested during the mouse plague has reduced returns to some farmers due to quality downgrades and extra costs involved in cleaning grain. While some producers suffered production losses, the mice did not significantly affect overall production volumes.

Cotton production is estimated to have increased significantly to 385,000 tonnes of lint and 545,000 tonnes of seed in 2020–21. This was mainly due to increased availability of irrigation water.

Rice production is estimated to have increased from drought affected production of 46,000 tonnes in 2019–20 to 450,000 tonnes in 2020–21, which is 26% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Despite increased availability of irrigation water, the area planted to rice was constrained by the large area planted to winter crops in 2020–21.

Table 5 Summer crop estimates, New South Wales, 2020−21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Grain sorghum 130 4.00 520 193 559
Cotton lint 193 2.00 385 253 363
Cottonseed 193 2.83 545 253 363
Rice 45 9.98 450 962 876

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

Last reviewed: 8 June 2021
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