National overview

Australian Crop Report: February edition

The 2020–21 summer crop season is forecast to be much improved on the drought affected season in 2019–20, but still below average. Seasonal conditions in Queensland and northern New South Wales were mixed for the planting of summer crops. Below average spring rainfall in most summer cropping regions prevented the planting intentions of summer crops from being realised. Planting in New South Wales was also constrained by the lack of fallow land following an exceptional winter crop season. Heavy rainfall in late December and January have benefited late sown summer crops and increase the area planted to crops in regions that have a later planting window, especially central Queensland. However, heavy rainfall in early summer led to soil being too wet for planting crops in some parts of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Growers in some of these flood affected regions are expected to fallow their land in preparation for the upcoming winter cropping season.

Yield prospects of summer crops are expected to benefit from favourable rainfall outlook and mild temperatures forecast for autumn. According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 4 February 2021, rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales is more likely to be above average. Daytime temperatures are likely to be around average and night-time temperatures slightly above average.

Planting of summer crops is largely complete and planted area is estimated to be 1.04 million hectares, which is nearly three times larger than in the heavily drought affected season in 2019–20. This is a 6.1% downward revision from the forecast ABARES published in the December 2020 Australian crop report, largely reflecting much more unfavourable seasonal conditions during spring than expected. Summer crop production is forecast to increase to 3.3 million tonnes in 2020–21, which is 13% below the 10-year average to 2019–20, largely because planted area is below average.

Area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to have increased by 258% in 2020–21 to 511,000 hectares. Production is forecast to increase by 409% to 1.5 million tonnes.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have risen by 395% in 2020–21 to 295,000 hectares, driven by improved soil moisture and greater supply of irrigation water in most cotton-growing regions. Yields are forecast to be below average due to a higher than average share of dryland cotton in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. Dryland cotton yields less than irrigated cotton.

Area planted to rice is estimated to have increased in 2020–21 from a very low planted area last year to around 46,000 hectares, reflecting improved availability of irrigation water. Production is forecast to increase to around 458,000 tonnes, a large rise from the small harvest in 2019–20.

Harvesting of winter crops is now largely complete. National production is estimated to have increased by 89% in 2020–21 to 55.2 million tonnes, 7.4% higher than the forecast presented in the December 2020 edition of Australian crop report. The upward revision was the result of yields continuing to exceed initial forecasts as harvest progressed, particularly in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Wheat production is estimated to have increased by 120% in 2020–21 to 33.3 million tonnes. Barley production is estimated to have increased by 45% to 13.1 million tonnes. Canola production is estimated increased by 74% to total 4.1 million tonnes.

Table 1 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
2018–19 468 915 603 1,307 1,094 2,338
2019–20 s 101 344 239 461 356 881
2020–21 f 433 1,736 592 1,491 1,040 3,306
% change 2019–20  to 2020–21 330 404 148 224 192 275

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

Table 2 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 s kt 18,683 9,548 1,670 8,400 16,843 55,248
% change 2019–20 to 2020–21   460 27 146 39 45 89

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 3 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 s '000 ha 6,032 3,466 1,163 3,670 8,310 22,661
% change 2019–20 to 2020–21   96 9 77 4 5 23

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

Last reviewed: 16 February 2021
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