New South Wales

Australian Crop Report: February edition

Seasonal conditions in 2020–21 have been favourable for summer crop production. December rainfall was average to very much above average across north east New South Wales, and average for most other summer cropping areas. Temperatures were average to below average during December in almost all summer cropping regions in New South Wales, providing mild conditions for summer crops. Rainfall in January was average to above average across much of the state, and very much above average in the Riverina. It was highest January rainfall in New South Wales since 2016.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 4 February 2020, there is a 60% to 70% chance of exceeding median rainfall in most summer cropping regions in New South Wales.

Area planted to summer crops in New South Wales increased significantly in 2020–21 to 433,000 hectares but is 20% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to summer crops was constrained by a lack of fallow land due to the excellent winter cropping season, particularly in northern New South Wales, and mixed seasonal conditions during the planting window. Summer crop production is forecast to reach 1.7 million tonnes in 2020–21, nearly six times what was produced in 2019–20 but 16% below the 10-year average to 2019–20.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to increase to around 130,000 hectares, 15% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. This reflects the low availability of fallow land and low levels of upper layer soil moisture in the main planting window. December and early January rainfall was above to very much above average in northern New South Wales, which is expected to boost average yields. However, this rainfall constrained the ability to plant a late crop because it was too wet. Yields are forecast to be above average at around 3.95 tonnes per hectare and result in grain sorghum production of around 514,000 tonnes, the biggest crop since 2015–16.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have increased by 327% in 2020–21 to 180,000 hectares, 28% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. The estimated increase in planted area is driven by increased availability of water in public dams and storages on-farm. However, dam storage levels remain low in some regions resulting in below average planted area overall. Area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have risen significantly in northern New South Wales and it is expected favourable summer rainfall will boost production.

Area planted to rice is estimated to have increased to around 45,000 hectares in 2020–21, reflecting an increase in the availability of irrigation water in rice growing regions. This estimate is lower than the forecast published in the December edition of Australian Crop Report following a lower than expected response by growers to water allocations. A favourable autumn planting period for wheat likely contributed to the observed response. Planting rice after wheat in the same season is largely infeasible given the wheat harvesting window in southern New South Wales.

Table 4 Summer crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2020−21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Grain sorghum 130 3.95 514 983 1,326
Cotton lint 180 2.00 361 327 280
Cottonseed 180 2.83 510 327 280
Rice 45 9.98 450 962 900

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

Winter crop production in New South Wales is estimated to rise to a record high 18.7 million tonnes in 2020–21, 88% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. This new estimate is 6.2% higher than the forecast ABARES published in the December 2020 edition of Australian crop report. Wheat and barley yields continued to exceed initial forecasts as harvest progressed, particularly in central and north western growing regions. Record high winter crop yields are expected in most regions. Area planted to winter crops is estimated to be just over 6 million hectares, 14% above the 10-year average to 2019–20.

Wheat production is estimated to be a record high 13.1 million tonnes in 2020–21. The average wheat yield is forecast to be a record high 3.45 tonnes per hectare, 72% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have increased to 3.8 million hectares, double the area planted in 2019–20.

Barley production is estimated to reach a record high 3.2 million tonnes in 2020–21, 95% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. The average barley yield is forecast to be 3.4 tonnes per hectare, 66% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to barley is estimated at 950,000 hectares.

Canola production is estimated to be around 1.1 million tonnes in 2020–21. The average yield is forecast to be a record high at 1.95 tonnes per hectare, 47% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to canola is estimated at 550,000 hectares, more than double what was planted in 2019–20.

Table 5 Winter crop estimates, New South Wales, 2020−21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 3,800 3.45 13,110 100 527
Barley 950 3.40 3,230 64 364
Canola 550 1.95 1,073 120 377

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

Last reviewed: 16 February 2021
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