Queensland

Australian Crop Report: February edition

The lack of rainfall throughout winter and spring in Queensland’s summer cropping regions provided little subsoil moisture for summer crops, which greatly reduced spring planting. Heavy rainfall in late December and January facilitated delayed summer crop planting, especially in the western Darling Downs and central Queensland. However, the rain generally arrived too late to boost the yield prospects of earlier sown crops, which were planted mostly in the inner Darling Downs. The planting window has closed in southern Queensland but remains open until around mid-February in central Queensland where more summer crops are likely to be planted. Harvesting of earlier sown summer crops has begun in parts of southern Queensland. Yields for these crops are expected to be below average.

The latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 4 February 2021, indicates summer rainfall is likely to be above average in Queensland. Above average summer rainfall is expected to boost the yields of later sown dryland crops.

Area planted to summer crops in Queensland in 2020–21 is estimated to be 592,000 hectares, 4% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. This planted area is more than twice the planted area in the drought affected season in 2019–20. There is a significant increase in area planted to grain sorghum and cotton. Summer crop production is forecast to be around 1.5 million tonnes in 2020–21, 10% below the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 1.7 million tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum in 2020–21 was constrained by below average rainfall throughout spring. Most plantings of grain sorghum occurred in the western Downs and central Queensland following rainfall in late December and January. Area planted to grain sorghum in 2020–21 is forecast to be around 380,000 hectares, 3% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. Grain sorghum yields are forecast to be slightly below average because of lower yields achieved by crops sown in spring. Production is forecast to be around 1 million tonnes in 2020–21.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have increased significantly in 2020–21 to 115,000 hectares but remain 21% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased because of recharges to on-farm water storages in southern cropping regions. However, water storage levels remain low in some regions. Area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have risen significantly due to much improved seasonal conditions.

Table 6 Summer crop forecasts, Queensland, 2020–21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. Change
%
Grain sorghum 380 2.63 1000 192 285
Cotton lint 115 1.75 201 557 418
Cottonseed 115 2.48 285 557 418

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 Queensland in 2020–21 is estimated at 1.67 million tonnes, 4% below the 10-year average to 2019–20 and unchanged from the December 2020 edition of Australian crop report. Area planted to winter crops in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased to around 1.16 million hectares, a significant increase relative to the previous two years that were heavily affected by drought.

Wheat production is estimated to have been around 1.1 million tonnes, 4% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have been 750,000 hectares.

Barley production in 2020–21 is estimated at have been around 240,000 tonnes, 13% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. The average yield of 1.78 tonnes per hectare is 9% below the long-term average. However, area planted to barley is estimated to have been 135,000 hectares, 31% above the 10-year average to 2019–20.

Chickpea production in 2020–21 is estimated to have been 275,000 tonnes, 21% below the 10-year average to 2019–20. The average yield and area planted to chickpeas are estimated to be 5% and 11% below the 10-year average to 2019–20 respectively.

Table 7 Winter crop estimates, Queensland, 2020–21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 750 1.47 1103 88 163
Barley 135 1.78 240 200 300
Chickpeas 230 1.20 275 35 62

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

Statistical tables

Last reviewed: 16 February 2021
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