National overview

​​Australian Crop Report: September edition

Winter crop prospects in Australia are generally average to above average at the beginning of spring. Crop prospects are strongest in New South Wales where favourable winter rainfall and a strong start to the winter cropping season are expected to result in well above average production. Crop prospects are average to above average in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and southern Queensland, despite warmer than average temperatures and below average rainfall in June and July. Soil moisture levels and timely rainfall were sufficient to sustain established crops through this period. Timely August rainfall provided a boost to yield prospects in these regions. However, it is expected August rainfall was generally insufficient for crops in central and northern cropping regions in Queensland to achieve average yields.

Favourable climatic conditions during spring are expected to support the ongoing development of winter crops and provide a good foundation for summer crops. The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month climate outlook (September to November), issued on 3 September 2020, indicates spring rainfall is likely to be above average in most cropping regions. However, there are roughly equal chances of higher or lower than average spring rainfall in most cropping regions in Western Australia and below average spring rainfall is most likely in the Geraldton zone and part of the Kwinana zone. Daytime temperatures in September are likely to be above average in most cropping regions and average to below average in October. Night-time temperatures are expected to be higher than average in most cropping regions except in south-western cropping regions in Western Australia.

Winter crop production in Australia is forecast to increase by 64% in 2020–21 to 47.9 million tonnes, 20% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 40 million tonnes. Around 60% of the forecast increase in production is from increased production in New South Wales. This is an 8% upward revision from the ABARES June 2020 forecast and reflects better than expected crop development during winter. Area planted to winter crops in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased by 23% from the drought affected season in 2019–20.

For the major winter crops, wheat production is forecast to increase by 91% to 28.9 million tonnes, 22% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 23.7 million tonnes. Barley production is forecast to increase by 25% to 11.2 million tonnes, 23% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 9.1 million tonnes. Canola production is forecast to rise by 47% to 3.4 million tonnes, 4% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 3.3 million tonnes.

Amongst other crops, chickpeas production is forecast to increase by 152% to 708,000 tonnes and oats production is forecast to increase by 93% to 1.7 million tonnes.

Table 1 Winter crop production, Australia, 2010–11 to 2020–21
Year Unit New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Australia
2010–11 kt 14,784 7,625 1,821 9,316 8,044 41,672
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 s kt 3,339 7,523 678 6,023 11,619 29,291
2020–21 f kt 14,808 7,943 1,672 7,723 15,683 47,919
% change 2019–20 to 2020–21   343 6 147 28 35 64

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, 2010–11 to 2020–21
Year Unit New South Wales Victoria Queensland South Australia Western Australia Australia
2010–11 '000 ha 6,158 3,457 1,217 3,821 7,715 22,392
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 s '000 ha 3,085 3,171 657 3,512 7,927 18,376
2020–21 f '000 ha 6,032 3,418 1,152 3,630 8,310 22,562
% change 2019–20 to 2020–21   96 8 75 3 5 23

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

Area planted to summer crops in 2020–21 is forecast to rise by 194% to around 1 million hectares, 11% below the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 1.2 million hectares. Area planted to grain sorghum and cotton is forecast to rise significantly compared to the drought affected levels of 2019–20. Summer crop production is forecast to rise by 259% to 3.2 million tonnes, reflecting the expected increase in planted area and an assumed return to average yields from the historically low yields in 2019–20.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by 316% in 2020–21 to 595,000 hectares, 13% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 525,000 hectares. This forecast increase reflects the favourable outlook for seasonal conditions during spring, favourable grain sorghum prices and the availability of fallow land in summer cropping regions. Assuming average yields, grain sorghum production is forecast to rise by 480% to around 1.7 million tonnes, which is 12% above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 1.5 million tonnes.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to rise by 300% in 2020–21 to 239,000 hectares, 40% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to irrigated cotton is forecast to rise due to a significant increase in the supply of irrigation water. Area planted to dryland cotton is forecast to increase significantly to 66,000 hectares, which reflects the favourable outlook for seasonal conditions in spring. Increasing area planted to rice and grain sorghum is expected to constrain the increases in area planted to irrigated and dryland cotton.

Area planted to rice is forecast to increase by 392% to around 27,000 hectares because of higher water allocations compared to the drought affected allocations in the last two years.

Table 3 Summer crop area and production, Australia, 20010–11 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 2,205 649 1,648 1,283 3,950
2018–19 468 915 603 1,307 1,094 2,338
2019–20 s 101 344 239 461 356 881
2020–21 f 386 1,376 650 1,734 1,047 3,163
% change 2019–20 to 2020–21 284 300 172 276 194 259

f ABARES forecast. 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

Statistical tables

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Last reviewed: 7 September 2020
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