National overview

Australian Crop Report: June edition

Winter crop prospects in 2021–22 are forecast to be well above average nationally, but with regional variation. The opening to the winter crop season was promising in many large producing regions with favourable late summer and autumn rainfall in most cropping regions in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. The favourable seasonal conditions in these regions, and high world prices, are expected to drive area planted to winter crops nationally to a record high. Crop prospects in most cropping regions in these states, especially those in New South Wales, are favourable despite the current mouse plague, given the well above average levels of soil moisture at the beginning of winter and a generally favourable winter rainfall outlook. In contrast, planting conditions in most cropping regions in Victoria and South Australia were unfavourable during autumn. Most crops in these two states will be reliant on winter rainfall for crop establishment and development and vulnerable to below average winter rainfall.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 3 June 2021, winter rainfall is likely to be above average in most cropping regions in eastern states and South Australia. Winter rainfall in cropping regions in Western Australia is likely to be average to below average. Analysis of the Bureau of Meteorology monthly and seasonal rainfall outlook indicates that it is likely that rainfall will not be evenly distributed over winter. Higher than average rainfall is more likely in June in most cropping regions and less favourable conditions is more likely during the remainder of winter.

Winter crop production is forecast to be 46.8 million tonnes in 2021–22, 15% below the near record high production last year but 13% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Mixed yield performance is expected to reduce production despite the area sown to winter crops being forecast to reach a record high of 23.2 million hectares, up 2% from last year.

Crop yields in New South Wales and Western Australia, the two states with the largest forecast planted area, are expected to be above average. Yields in New South Wales are forecast to be lower than the record highs achieved last season but well above the 10-year average to 2020–21. In Western Australia, crop yields are forecast to be comparable to last season at around 9% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Yield performance in other states is expected to be patchy, in line with regional variations in seasonal conditions, with below average yields expected in some important growing regions in Victoria and South Australia.

For the major winter crops in 2021–22, area planted to wheat is forecast to increase by 1% to around 13.1 million hectares. Wheat production is forecast to fall by 17% but still be 15% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Area planted to barley is forecast to fall by 4% to around 4.2 million hectares. Barley production is forecast to fall by 21% to 10.4 million tonnes but still be 7% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Area planted to canola is forecast to increase by 25% to almost 3 million hectares, the third highest on record. Area planted to canola is expected to be boosted by favourable world prices and excellent planting conditions in Western Australia and New South Wales. Canola production is forecast to increase by 4% to 4.2 million tonnes, 22% above the 10-year average to 2020–21.

Among other crops, area planted to chickpea is forecast to increase by 20% to 607,000 hectares, in response to high prices and favourable planting conditions in Queensland and New South Wales. Area planted to oats is expected to fall by 7% because of lower domestic feed demand and concerns trade tensions with China may adversely affect hay exports.

Increased mice populations in the eastern states have resulted in producers undertaking more baiting than usual this season. This is expected to increase costs of production in affected regions. However, while some producers may suffer production losses, national production is not expected to be adversely affected. Mouse numbers remained high in many cropping regions in New South Wales and southern Queensland during autumn 2021, but it is expected that their numbers have now peaked in most regions as cold and wet winter conditions slow breeding rates. Farm management has so far minimised damage to winter crop plantings and development in affected regions, although some risk remains if warmer weather in spring results in a resurgence of mice.

Table 1 Winter crop production, Australia, 2011–12 to 2021–22
Year Unit New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Australia
2011–12 kt 11,952 7,352 2,329 7,371 16,600 45,673
2012–13 kt 11,123 6,886 2,156 6,470 11,244 37,936
2013–14 kt 9,773 6,774 1,516 7,221 16,511 41,881
2014–15 kt 10,445 5,117 1,464 7,439 14,662 39,198
2015–16 kt 11,624 3,568 2,104 6,104 14,206 37,687
2016–17 kt 15,510 9,511 3,159 10,656 17,737 56,675
2017–18 kt 7,743 7,612 1,438 7,022 14,510 38,396
2018–19 kt 3,243 4,603 686 5,487 17,633 31,737
2019–20 kt 3,195 8,334 695 5,533 12,172 30,003
2020–21 s kt 18,661 9,548 1,670 8,400 16,843 55,226
2021–22 f kt 13,074 6,869 2,159 7,053 17,542 46,780
% change 2020–21 to 2021–22   -30 -28 29 -16 4 -15

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.
Notes: Includes barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils, linseed, lupins, oats, safflower, triticale and wheat. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16.
Sources: ABARES; ABS

Table 2 Winter crop area, Australia, 2011–12 to 2021–22
Year Unit New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Australia
2011–12 '000 ha 5,969 3,411 1,205 3,838 8,252 22,693
2012–13 '000 ha 5,852 3,457 1,222 3,776 8,097 22,421
2013–14 '000 ha 5,314 3,283 1,105 3,448 8,249 21,419
2014–15 '000 ha 5,491 3,304 995 3,639 8,313 21,760
2015–16 '000 ha 5,375 2,915 1,049 3,152 7,771 20,283
2016–17 '000 ha 6,062 3,231 1,375 3,904 8,531 23,126
2017–18 '000 ha 5,489 3,509 1,302 3,645 7,898 21,861
2018–19 '000 ha 3,990 3,350 725 3,391 8,296 19,771
2019–20 '000 ha 3,789 3,534 748 3,473 8,117 19,678
2020–21 s '000 ha 6,032 3,466 1,163 3,670 8,310 22,661
2021–22 f '000 ha 6,076 3,385 1,338 3,684 8,695 23,196
% change 2020–21 to 2021–22   1 -2 15 0 5 2

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.
Notes: Includes barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils, linseed, lupins, oats, safflower, triticale and wheat. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.
Sources: ABARES; ABS

Summer crop production in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased to 3.4 million tonnes, more than three times higher than drought affected production in 2019–20.

Grain sorghum production is estimated to have increased from a very low level in 2019–20 to 1.5 million tonnes in 2020–21, which is 2% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted is estimated to have increased to 511,000 hectares. High mouse numbers in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales caused some damage to maturing summer crops, but this did not significantly affect overall national volumes. The extent of this damage is patchy and differs from paddock to paddock, and has lowered returns for affected growers, mainly through quality downgrades due to contamination. Some production losses occurred.

Cotton production is estimated to have risen from a very low level in 2019–20 to 608,000 tonnes of lint and 860,000 tonnes of seed, which is around 20% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. This was driven mostly by a significant increase in planted area from the very small planted area in 2019–20 to 297,000 hectares, which is 26% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. The increase in area was due to improved soil moisture and greater supply of irrigation water in most cotton-growing regions.

Rice production is forecast to increase from a very low level in 2019–20 to around 458,000 tonnes in 2020–21, which is 26% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to rice is estimated to have increased to around 46,000 hectares, 25% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. The increase in production reflects increased availability of irrigation water.

Table 3 Summer crop area and production, Australia, 2010–11 to 2020–21
Year New South Wales Queensland Australia
'000 ha kt '000 ha kt '000 ha kt
2010–11 713 2,514 790 1,901 1,514 4,446
2011–12 757 3,064 783 2,379 1,556 5,489
2012–13 711 3,205 686 2,250 1,411 5,506
2013–14 568 2,317 559 1,469 1,139 3,847
2014–15 435 2,044 696 2,134 1,149 4,263
2015–16 412 1,646 624 1,814 1,054 3,547
2016–17 662 2,289 566 1,278 1,247 3,668
2017–18 614 2,205 648 1,648 1,283 3,952
2018–19 492 915 615 1,307 1,130 2,338
2019–20 135 359 260 499 413 985
2020–21 s 445 1,777 582 1,511 1,042 3,367
% change 2019–20  to 2020–21 230 396 124 203 152 242

s ABARES estimate.
Note: State production includes cottonseed, grain sorghum, corn (maize), mung beans, rice, peanuts, soybeans and sunflowers. Total for Australia also includes navy beans, and small areas and volumes of summer crops in other states. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed.
Sources: ABARES; ABS

Last reviewed: 8 June 2021
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