Cropping

Australian 2018 canola exports hit 1.1Mt as new-crop outlook slips

Liz Wells, May 21, 2018

AUSTRALIA has shipped 1.1 million tonnes of canola, mostly to European crushers, over the January-March 2018 period, and industry attention is now switching to new-crop, as the early planting window closes and concerns mount about drops in yield potential and area.

Orange-based New South Wales Department of Primary Industries canola specialist, Don McCaffery, who works with the Australian Oilseeds Federation on area and production estimates, said the northern half of Western Australia’s wheatbelt, northwest Victoria, and everywhere in NSW beyond the southern and south-west slopes needed rain to get the crop established.

“There has been some storm rain around, but the only areas in NSW to really get the last rain and the one before were from about Cowra to Albury.”

Don McCaffery

Much of the NSW canola crop has been sown dry, and Mr McCaffery said very little had established on the outer slopes and plains west of the Newell Highway, north and west of NSW’s canola-growing heartland.

“The national crop was looking healthy at the end of April, and South Australia has a fair bit of its crop in and so does Victoria, with the exception of parts of the Mallee.”

Mr Caffery said his calculations late last month reduced NSW’s intended canola from 650,000 hectares to 585,000ha.

“NSW might make 550,000ha. Now there’s only one direction to go, and that’s down.”

Barley in favour

Provided paddocks had not been sprayed with atrazine herbicide, Mr McCaffery said some canola varieties which had been sown dry and failed to establish were likely to be sacrificed to make way for barley.

“It it’s not up by 10 June, it’ll be ‘goodbye canola and hello barley’.”

Lake Cargelligo agronomist, Andrew McFadyen, said the window had shut for planting canola on the central-western plains of NSW, where hot spring weather was likely to impact yields in later-sown crops.

“I think it will back to the ’70s and ’80s with wheat and barley everywhere around here.”

Mr McFadyen, whose client base includes other parts of NSW, said he thought growers north of the Golden Highway would now be thinking seriously of fallowing country prepared for winter crop.

“I can see a swing into dryland sorghum, or dryland cotton, and not much canola or chickpeas this year.”

June break tolerable

Mr McCaffery said the 2005 experience had shown canola crops could still yield well on a first-half June break, and that many Victorian and South Australian crops yielded surprisingly well given the patchy 2017 season.

“As for this year, we’re all still guessing, especially with these big blocking high-pressure systems sitting in the Great Australian Bight.”

Sources say the best-advanced crops in all states are now at the 4-5 leaf stage.

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Table 1: Australian Bureau of Statistics canola export data.

CANOLA Jan Feb Mar Tonnes
Bangladesh 1001 0 6010 7011
Belgium 56274 245540 78589 380403
Canada 0 0 25 25
France 0 31461 65374 96835
Germany 120425 191260 178586 490271
Indonesia 1700 211 108 2019
Japan 2261 1132 2243 5636
Kenya 0 3 0 3
Korea 801 0 801 1602
Kuwait 0 19 0 19
Malaysia 5006 515 1491 7012
Nepal 4261 4647 6601 15509
Netherlands 0 0 60000 60000
New Zealand 977 497 1319 2793
Portugal 30000 0 30000
South Africa 63 36 44 143
UAE 0 0 46 46
United States 0 0 1 1
Vietnam 42 0 994 1036
TOTAL 192811 505321 402232 1100364

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