South Australia

​​​​Australian Crop Report: September edition

Most cropping regions in South Australia had sufficient levels of soil moisture at the beginning of winter to sustain crops through June and July when rainfall was below average. August rainfall was timely and sufficient in most cropping regions, which boosted crop prospects in these regions. However, below average rainfall in early winter is expected to have reduced yield prospects in parts of the upper Eyre Peninsula and northern Mallee. Sufficient and timely spring rainfall will be important to grain development in some major crop growing regions where root zone soil moisture in August was well below average. It is likely that recent rainfall improved soil moisture levels but it is presently difficult to know by how much as it takes time for rainfall events to show up in root zone soil moisture levels.

According to the latest three-month seasonal outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 3 September 2020, spring rainfall is likely to be above average in all cropping regions in South Australia. Day time temperatures are likely to be above average in September and average to below average in October and night time temperatures are likely to be above average in September in most cropping regions.

The forecast of above average overnight temperatures in September are likely to reduce the chance of significant frost events. Above average temperatures and mostly average rainfall forecast for September and above average rainfall forecast for October are expected to facilitate grain filling and support average to above average yields in most cropping regions.

Winter crop production in South Australia is forecast to increase to 7.7 million tonnes in 2020–21, which is 6% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. This is mostly because state wide average yields are expected to increase. Additionally, area planted to winter crops is estimated to have increased in response to favourable autumn rainfall and is larger than each of the previous three years, driven by increases in northern cropping regions.

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 41% in 2020–21 to 4.5 million tonnes, reflecting an expected 32% increase in the state wide average yield from the low average yield in 2019–20. The expected average yield is around 3% above the 10-year average to 2019–20. Most area planted to wheat is in Eyre Peninsula, the mid-North and the Murraylands, and yield prospects in these regions are significantly higher than yields last year. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have increased by around 6% to around 2.1 million hectares.

Barley production is forecast to increase by 14% in 2020–21 to 2.1 million tonnes, reflecting an expected 14% increase in the state wide average yield. The expected increase in the average yield is less significant for barley than for wheat because less area is estimated to have been planted to barley in high-yielding regions than last year. This is not the case for wheat. Area planted to barley is estimated to have fallen slightly.

Canola production is forecast to increase by 10% in 2020–21 to 330,000 tonnes, reflecting an expected 8% increase in the state wide average yield and an estimated 2% increase in planted area. Yields for canola crops are expected to be higher than last year in most cropping regions, especially in the mid-North.

Table 9 Winter crop forecasts, South Australia, 2020–21
Crop Area
’000 ha
Area change
Prod. change


















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: 7 September 2020
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