Australian Crop Report: September edition
Winter crop production in Western Australia is forecast to reach 16.2 million tonnes in 2023–24. This level of production represents a downward revision from the June forecast and now sits 7% below the 10-year average to 2022–23. This forecast is 37% below the 2022–23 record of 25.8 million tonnes. While production is forecast to fall overall, seasonal conditions have been variable across the state. Average to above-average June rainfall across southern and central cropping regions benefited crop establishment and growth. Following dry conditions in July, well-timed rainfall in August across southern cropping regions reinforced yield potentials. However, planting and establishment conditions were largely unfavourable in the northern and eastern cropping regions of Western Australia. This has led to crops experiencing moisture stress, limiting yield potential. In addition, crop development is later than normal due to cooler winter temperatures.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 24 August 2023, rainfall is likely to be below average across cropping regions in Western Australia. The increased chance of drier and warmer spring conditions presents a downside risk for winter crops that are already experiencing moisture stress. Late emergence and slow crop development are also expected to limit yield potential because of the increased risk of exposure to heat stress in spring.
The average state wheat yield is forecast to be 13% below the 10-year average to 2022–23 given the high proportion of wheat grown in the lower-rainfall northern cropping regions of Western Australia. Barley and canola yields are expected to be in line with the 10-year average, reflecting favourable conditions in southern cropping regions where the majority of barley and canola is grown.
Area planted to winter crops in Western Australia in 2023–24 is forecast to fall by 6% to 8.6 million hectares compared to 2022–23, but remain 3% above the 10-year average. This largely reflects a reduction in area sown in lower-rainfall cropping regions, especially for less drought tolerant crops such as canola. Despite the expected fall in canola plantings, area is expected to be the second highest on record at 1.8 million hectares and this is expected to see canola production remain well above average. Canola crops have good yield potential heading into spring as much of the crop was sown early and is more advanced than cereal crops, reducing the likelihood of heat shock in spring.
Winter crop forecasts, Western Australia, 2023–24
Note: Yields are based on area planted. Area based on planted crop that is harvested, fed off or failed. Percent changes are relative to 2022–23.