Western Australia

Australian Crop Report: June edition

Seasonal conditions were very favourable at the start of the 2021–22 winter cropping season in Western Australia. The favourable seasonal conditions created ideal planting conditions during the planting window. Soil moisture levels were average to extremely high at the end of autumn. However, timely and sufficient winter rainfall will still be required for crop prospects to be strong at the beginning of spring because soils in many cropping regions in Western Australia tend to have a lower water holding capacity when compared to soils in the eastern states.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 3 June 2021, Western Australian cropping regions are most likely to have below average winter rainfall. There is around 60% chance of not exceeding median rainfall.

Following an excellent start to the cropping season, ABARES expects that these forecast winter rainfall totals will be sufficient to sustain crops through to spring.

Area planted to winter crops in Western Australia is forecast to increase by 5% to a record high 8.7 million hectares in 2021–22. In addition to favourable planting conditions, the low sheep population means more land is available for cropping. Winter crop yields are forecast to be almost 9% above the 10-year average to 2020–21, which reflects the very favourable start to the season and excellent levels of soil moisture at the time of planting. This facilitated planting taking place at the optimum time, which reduces the risk of crop damage from hot conditions occurring later in the season during grain development. Although winter rainfall is expected to be below average, it would have to be very much below average and untimely not to achieve forecast yields. Spring rainfall is assumed to be around average. Winter crop production is forecast to be 17.5 million tonnes, which is 15% above the 10-year average to 2020–21.

Area planted to wheat is forecast to increase by 3% in 2021–22 to 4.9 million hectares, 5% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Production is forecast to be 10 million tonnes, reflecting the increase in area planted and a forecast increase in yields.

Area planted to barley is forecast to decrease by 4% in 2021–22 to 1.5 million hectares, 2% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Higher relative margins for canola provided an incentive to shift out of barley in many areas. Production is forecast to be 4.1 million tonnes.

Area planted to canola is forecast to increase by 35% in 2021–22 to a record high of 1.6 million hectares, reflecting high expected margins and a favourable start to the cropping season. Concerns around seed availability, especially for hybrid varieties, may constrain canola planting for some growers. Yields are forecast to be well above the 10-year average to 2020–21, resulting in production of 2.1 million tonnes.

Area planted to lupin is forecast to fall by 14% in 2021–22 to 300,000 hectares, reflecting lower expected returns compared to other crops. Production is forecast to total 450,000 tonnes, 18% below the 10-year average to 2020–21 mainly due to the lower forecast area.

Table 10 Winter crop forecasts, Western Australia, 2021–22

Crop
Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 4,900 2.04 10,000 3 5
Barley 1,530 2.68 4,100 –4 –7
Canola 1,550 1.35 2,100 35 27
Lupins 300 1.50 450 –14 –18

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

Last reviewed: 7 June 2021
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