Australian winter crop production is forecast to increase by 64 per cent in 2020-21, with New South Wales expected to have its second biggest winter crop in a decade.
ABARES’ September 2020 Australian Crop Report has found that winter crop prospects in Australia are generally average to above average at the beginning of spring.
Winter crop production is forecast to be 47.9 million tonnes in 2020–21, 20 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 40 million tonnes.
This forecast is an eight per cent upward revision from the ABARES June 2020 forecast.
ABARES Executive Director Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds said crop prospects are strongest in New South Wales where favourable winter rainfall and a strong start to the season are expected to result in well above average production.
“Increased production in New South Wales has accounted for 60 per cent of the forecast increase in production nationally,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
“New South Wales production is forecast to be 14.8 million tonnes in 2020-21—that’s more than a 300 per cent increase on last year and the highest since 2016-17.
“Crop prospects are average to above average in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and southern Queensland, despite warmer than average temperatures and below average rainfall in June and July.
“Soil moisture levels and timely rainfall were sufficient to sustain established crops through this period. Timely August rainfall provided a boost to yield prospects in many regions.
“However, it is expected August rainfall was generally insufficient for crops in central and northern cropping regions in Queensland to achieve average yields.
“Area planted to winter crops in 2020–21 is estimated to have increased by 23 per cent to 22.6 million hectares from the drought affected season in 2019–20.
“In New South Wales, the area planted is estimated to be six million hectares—almost double that from 2019-20.”
The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month climate outlook (September to November), issued on 3 September 2020, indicates spring rainfall is likely to be above average in most cropping regions.
However, in Western Australia the outlook is mixed, with below average spring rainfall most likely for the Geraldton zone and part of the Kwinana zone.
For the major winter crops:
Wheat production is forecast to increase by 91 per cent to 28.9 million tonnes, 22 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.
Barley production is forecast to increase by 25 per cent to 11.2 million tonnes, 23 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.
Canola production is forecast to rise by 47 per cent to 3.4 million tonnes, 4 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019-20.
Summer crops also look set for a boost from last year. Area planted to summer crops in 2020–21 is forecast to rise by 194 per cent to around 1 million hectares, 11 per cent below the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 1.2 million hectares.
Area planted to rice is forecast to increase by almost 400 per cent to around 27,000 hectares because of higher water allocations compared to the drought affected allocations in the last two years.
Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by around 300 per cent to 595,000 hectares, 13 per cent above the 10-year average to 2019–20 of 525,000 hectares.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to rise by 300 per cent in 2020–21 to 239,000 hectares, 40 per cent below the 10-year average to 2019–20.