Seasonal conditions: June quarter 2021

Matthew Miller

  • Global crop and pasture production conditions continue to be generally favourable for agriculture despite mixed climatic conditions in some countries.
  • Global climate outlooks indicate that average to above average rainfall is likely between June and August 2021 for most of the world's major grain- and oilseed-producing regions.
  • The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was neutral during April and the influence of the recent La Niña event on Australia's climate has diminished. However, parts of South America and the United States continue to experience dryness as a lingering impact of La Niña.
  • In Australia, autumn climatic conditions have benefited the production prospects of dryland crops in 2021–22 across much of western and eastern Australia. However, a drier than normal autumn was experienced across much of southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Global production conditions have been favourable despite some dryness

Global production conditions and rainfall over the 3 months to 30 April 2021 have been in line with those expected back in February, with no major departures in terms of their influence on global grain supplies and world prices.

In the southern hemisphere, rainfall over the 3 months to 30 April 2021 affected development and yield prospects of summer crops, and the soil moisture available for winter crops. February to April 2021 rainfall was generally below average across much of Brazil and parts of southern Australia. Persistent dryness has limited the yield potential of second-crop corn in southern Brazil, but conditions were favourable in production areas further north. In Argentina, an uneven distribution of rainfall throughout the growing season has limited the yield potential of corn and soybeans in key eastern growing regions.

In Australia, average to above average rainfall during March in eastern cropping regions and during April in the west resulted in a boost to soil moisture levels. This allowed for timely planting of wheat, barley and canola. However, a drier than normal March and April across parts of southern Australia saw many crops sown dry in Victoria and South Australia.

In the northern hemisphere, February to April 2021 rainfall affected the development and yield prospects of winter crops, especially wheat. It also influenced farmers' planting intentions and soil moisture available for spring wheat and canola crops, as well as summer crops such as corn, cotton, rice, sunflowers and grain sorghum.

Rainfall over the 3 months to 30 April 2021 was generally below average for parts of the European Union and Turkey, and in parts of the south-western and northern United States. In contrast, rainfall was above average across parts of the central United States, the western Russian Federation, India and East Asia. Dryness and below normal temperatures during April delayed the planting of summer crops in key growing areas surrounding the Black Sea, and across the European Union and the United Kingdom.

For commodity-by-commodity assessments of global crop production conditions, see ABARES Weekly Australian climate, water and agricultural update for 20 May 2021.

World precipitation anomalies, April to May 2021
Notes: World 3-month seasonal precipitation anomalies are in units of mm/season, based on precipitation estimates from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center's Climate Anomaly Monitoring System Outgoing Precipitation Index dataset. Precipitation estimates for April to May 2021 are compared with rainfall recorded for that period during the 1979 to 2000 base period.
Source: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

 

Crop conditions, Agricultural Market Information System countries, 28 April 2021
Notes: Average refers to the average conditions over the past 5 years. Exceptional conditions are much better than average at the time of reporting. Favourable conditions range from slightly lower to slightly better than average at reporting time. Poor crop conditions are well below average. Crop yields are likely to be more than 5% below average.
Source: Agricultural Market Information System

 

Global climate outlook mixed for the remainder of 2020–21

The global climate outlook indicates that average to above average rainfall is more likely between June and August 2021 for most of the world's major grain-producing and oilseed-producing regions. If realised, this is likely to benefit spring wheat and canola, cotton, rice, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, sunflower and millet production in the northern hemisphere, and winter wheat and canola production in most southern hemisphere growing regions.

However, below average rainfall is more likely across most of Argentina and southern Brazil. This may adversely affect the planting and development of wheat crops. Below average rainfall between June and August 2021 is also more likely for parts of south-western and eastern Europe, parts of south-western Canada and parts of the north-west United States. This may adversely affect the development of winter and spring wheat, canola, corn, cotton, soybeans, sorghum and sunflower.

For country-by-country assessments of the climate outlook and potential impact on production conditions, see ABARES Weekly Australian climate, water and agricultural update for 20 May 2021.

Early autumn break delivers timely rainfall across much of eastern Australia

In southern Australia, the timing of the autumn break is important for a successful pasture and crop production season. The autumn break is the first significant rainfall of the winter growing season and provides enough moisture to initiate crop and pasture germination and support early plant growth. The break generally applies to southern pasture and cropping areas mainly in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, as well as southern Queensland.

ABARES analysis of daily rainfall data sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology indicates that an early autumn break (during March 2021) had been achieved across much of New South Wales, Western Australia and parts of southern Queensland, central Victoria and Tasmania. Notably, an early autumn break was not achieved across cropping regions in South Australia and much of western Victoria.

Rainfall during April 2021 was below average for much of Australia. April rainfall was severely deficient to below average for most of the cropping regions in central and southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Rainfall was above average to extremely high for parts of the cropping regions in Western Australia and generally average across remaining cropping regions in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

The early autumn break recorded for large areas of New South Wales and Victoria during March was not consolidated during April. This dry period following the early autumn break increased the risk of plants experiencing moisture stress after germination, rendering them unable to grow roots down into lower moisture in lower soil layers. Much of southern Australia will rely on significant May rainfall to support winter crop establishment and pasture development.

More stored irrigation water boosts crop prospects

The seasonal drawdown from reservoir storages in the Murray–Darling Basin ceased during March 2021 and the seasonal recharge of storages has commenced. A major rain event in the second half of March 2021 affected large areas of the northern Basin. Extensive heavy rainfall and localised flooding provided a significant boost to soil moisture and on farm water storage levels. At 19 May 2021 the total volume of water held in storage across the Basin was around 14,300 GL, or around 57% of total capacity. This was 4,600 GL or 48% more than at the same time last year. Increased on-farm dam and reservoir storages offer favourable irrigated planting prospects in New South Wales and southern Queensland (see Outlook for crops). See ABARES Water Market Outlook for a summary of water market conditions and forecasts of allocation prices in the southern Murray–Darling Basin.

Rainfall, wheat–sheep zone, 1 January 2020 to 30 April 2021
Monthly rainfall for January to April in the wheat/sheep zones of each Australian state was generally higher in 2021 than in 2020. This indicates that an early autumn break occurred.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Average or better rainfall likely across much of Australia

According to the Bureau of Meteorology's climate outlook for June to August 2021 (published on 27 May 2021), there is a greater than 60% chance of above average rainfall across much of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, as well as parts of northern Western Australia. There is a less than 40% chance of exceeding median rainfall across parts of south-west Western Australia, although on sandier soils the timing of rainfall, rather than the total amount received, is often more important for yield prospects.

A combination of expected rainfall and stored soil moisture is likely to be sufficient to support above average crop and pasture production across most of Australia's cropping regions. There is a 75% chance of receiving between 50 and 200 mm between June and August in New South Wales, southern Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Rainfall of less than 50 mm during June and August is expected in some northern Queensland cropping regions.

Some cropping regions in parts of western Victoria and South Australia have not yet recorded an autumn break. Forecasts indicate a 50% chance of these regions receiving between 25 and 50 mm of rainfall in June 2021, which should provide sufficient moisture to germinate dry-sown crop and facilitate the finalisation of winter crop planting programs.

Rainfall with a 75% chance of occurring, Australia, June to August 2021
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

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Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2021 - Report PDF 28 3.2 MB
Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2021 - Commodities - data tables XLS 12 154 KB
Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2021 - Statistics - data tables XLS 33 581 KB

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Last reviewed: 16 June 2021
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