Australian Crop Report: March edition
- Summer crop production in 2021–22 is forecast to be the fourth highest on record.
- Winter crop production in 2021–22 has been revised to an even higher national record of 61.9 million tonnes.
- Wheat quality in New South Wales is well below average due to record rainfall during the typical harvest period.
Summer crop prospects excellent
Summer crop prospects in 2021–22 are excellent following favourable seasonal conditions during late spring and summer in Queensland and northern New South Wales. Well above average rainfall between October 2021 and January 2022 is forecast to be beneficial for crop plantings and yields, despite record November rainfall causing inundation and loss of some early sown summer crops. Production prospects are the highest in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, where record yields and above average planted area is forecast. Production in central Queensland is also forecast to be above average but less favourable than other regions. This is mainly because drier conditions during January in central Queensland limited planting opportunities for late sown summer crops (see the Seasonal conditions overview).
Yield prospects for summer crops are expected to benefit from the favourable rainfall outlook forecast for autumn. According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 17 February 2022, rainfall during autumn is more likely to be above average in all summer cropping regions.
Total summer crop production in Australia is forecast to rise by 64% in 2021–22 to 5.3 million tonnes, the fourth highest on record (Figure 1). Area planted to summer crops is estimated to have increased by 48% to around 1.5 million hectares, 35% above the 10-year average to 2020–21. Rising dam storages have boosted plantings of irrigated cotton and rice. Well above average spring and summer rainfall has also increased plantings to dryland cotton and grain sorghum.
Record winter crop for Australia
Harvesting of winter crops this season is now complete. National winter crop production is estimated to be the highest on record, driven by record production in Western Australia and near record production in New South Wales. Production in other states is also estimated to be well above average. The record national outcome was realised following most crops being in good condition at the end of winter, followed by generally favourable conditions over spring which further improved yields nationally. However, record November rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and New South Wales led to widespread flooding, weather damage and delays to winter crop harvests. Widespread downgrades of wheat quality in New South Wales have been reported. An unprecedented amount of low protein and feed quality wheat from New South Wales is expected as a result. Grain qualities in other states have been mostly average and as expected given the seasonal conditions. A common trade-off of high yields can be the subsequent dilution of protein levels, and this was noticeable in Western Australia where lower than average qualities of wheat were observed.
Mice population in cropping regions have generally declined during summer. Increased baiting of mice on farms during spring 2021 was effective and the very wet spring and summer has also helped. There have been no reports of significant damage to date.
Total winter crop production is estimated to be 61.9 million tonnes in 2021–22. This represents an upward revision of 6% from the December 2021 edition of the Australian Crop Report. Production of wheat, barley and canola are all estimated to have reached new national records.