Western Australia

​​​Australian Crop Report: September edition

Winter rainfall was below average in most cropping regions in Western Australia. The late break to the season and low levels of soil moisture meant germination and early growth was slow for most crops. Rainfall in Western Australia was below average in June and July but timely rainfall in August boosted yield prospects in most cropping regions. Cereal crops are expected to achieve average to above average yields. However, sufficient and timely spring rainfall will be critical to grain development with root zone soil moisture levels in August well below average to extremely low in some crop growing regions.

According to the latest three-month climate outlook (September to November 2020), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 3 September 2020, there are roughly equal chances of higher or lower than average spring rainfall in most cropping regions in Western Australia. However, below average spring rainfall is most likely in the Geraldton zone and part of the Kwinana zone. Daytime and night-time temperatures are likely to be above average in most cropping regions during September. While there are no strong indications for below or above average night-time temperatures in October, daytime temperatures are more likely to be below average.

There is downside risk in the spring rainfall outlook for yield prospects, especially if early spring rainfall is insufficient to sustain crops in regions where root zone soil moisture levels in August were well below average to extremely low. It is likely that recent rainfall lessened this risk 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.

Winter crop production in Western Australia is forecast to rise by 35% in 2020–21 to 15.7 million tonnes, 10% higher than the 10-year average to 2019–20. Yields are expected to be higher than in 2019–20. Area planted to winter crops is estimated to have increased by 5%.

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 53% to 8.9 million tonnes in 2020–21. An average yield of 1.87 tonnes per hectare is expected, reflecting favourable crop prospects in most growing regions. The forecast average yield is 45% higher than in 2019–20. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have increased by 6% to around 4.8 million hectares.

Barley production is forecast to increase by 3% to 3.95 million tonnes, reflecting a forecast 12% rise in the average yield. Area planted to barley is estimated to have fallen by 9% to 1.6 million hectares, with area planted to wheat increasing at the expense of area planted to barley in some growing regions.

Canola production is forecast to increase by 26% in 2020 –21 to 1.45 million tonnes, returning to the 10-year average to 2019–20. The average yield is expected to be 4% higher than in 2019–20 with more favourable seasonal conditions in major canola growing regions. Area planted to canola is estimated to have increased by 21% to almost 1.2 million hectares because of more favourable conditions than last year during the planting window in the southern cropping regions. Following a poorer start and less favourable early growing conditions in northern cropping regions, August rainfall improved yield prospects for canola in those regions.

Table 10 Winter crop forecasts, Western Australia, 2020–21
Crop Area
'000 ha
Yield
t/ha
Production
kt
Area change
%
Prod. change
%
Wheat 4,750 1.87 8,900 6 53
Barley 1,600 2.47 3,950 –9 3
Canola 1,150 1.26 1,450 21 26
Lupins 350 1.40 490 0 40

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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