ABARES has today released its initial estimates for Australia’s winter crop now in the final stages of planting, and an end to the run of three consecutive record seasons is expected as drier conditions take hold.
On wheat, 2023-24 production is forecast in the latest quarterly Australian Crop Report at 26.2 million tonnes (Mt), down 33 percent from 39.2Mt grown in 2022-23.
New-crop barley is forecast at 9.9Mt, down 30pc from 14.1Mt last year, and canola seen at 4.9Mt marks a whopping 41pc drop from the monster current crop of 8.3Mt.
ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the report forecasts total Australian winter-crop production to fall by 34pc to 44.9Mt in 2023-24.
“The start of the winter cropping season in 2023-24 has been mixed,” Dr Greenville said.
“Early autumn rainfall in some major cropping regions in southern Victoria, southern New South Wales, southern Queensland, South Australia and central cropping regions in Western Australia replenished soil-moisture levels and provided favourable planting conditions.
“However, autumn rainfall in northern and southern cropping regions in WA, northern NSW, northern Victoria and parts of southern and Central Qld has been lower than average and soil moisture levels have remained low.”
ABARES forecasts winter-crop production from the upcoming harvest will decline to 3pc below the 10-year average to 2022-23 of 46.4Mt, and yield prospects are forecast to be below average due to the expectation of below-average rainfall for winter and spring.
“Increased mouse activity in many cropping regions has resulted in growers undertaking more baiting this season.”
Dr Greenville said the “delayed and difficult harvest” of the record 2022-23 winter crop led to greater grain loss than usual.
“On a more positive note, high crop prices, good seasons and record farm cash incomes over the last three years mean many growers will stay in a strong financial position despite the fall in production.
“This will incentivise farmers to plant a crop this season while also allowing some growers to fallow a higher proportion of paddocks in dry areas.”
Area planted to wheat is forecast to fall by 2pc to 12.8Mha and area planted to barley is forecast to increase by 4pc to 4.3Mha, largely because of the crop’s ability to withstand drier conditions compared to wheat and canola.
The longer planting window for cereals is also expected to result in some late plantings following rainfall events.
“Looking ahead, a significant downside risk to the 2023-24 winter cropping season is the potential for an El Niño event and positive Indian Ocean Dipole to both eventuate this year.
“Looking ahead, the development of an El Niño event is likely to result in below-average rainfall across eastern Australia during the winter-cropping season.
“We are also expected to see a positive Indian Ocean Dipole which may suppress winter and spring rainfall over much of Australia and potentially exacerbate the drying effect of an El Niño event.”
Despite the decline in production and weather events, national planting to winter crops in 2023-24 is set to remain historically high at 23.3Mha, 6pc above the 10-year average to 2022-23.
Table 1: Australian wheat production estimates in tonnes and by state. * To be confirmed. Source: ABARES
|WHEAT HA||2021-22||2022-23||2023-24 Jun|
Table 2: Australian wheat area in hectares and by state. Source: ABARES
Table 3: Australian barley production estimates in tonnes and by state. Source: ABARES
Table 4: Australian barley area in hectares and by state. Source: ABARES
Table 5: Australian canola production estimates in tonnes and by state. Source: ABARES
Table 6: Australian canola area in hectares and by state. Source: ABARES