AUSTRALIA’S commodity forecaster ABARES has lifted its forecast for the sorghum crop now being harvested to 2.6 million tonnes (Mt) in its latest Australian Crop Report released today.
This is the third-largest sorghum crop on record, and is up from 2Mt forecast in its previous crop report released in December.
The national body has also lifted its forecast for the record 2021-22 (Oct-Sep) wheat crop to 36.3Mt from 34.4Mt seen previously, and canola is to 6.4Mt, up from 5.7Mt.
The 2021-22 barley crop is now also seen at a record at 13.7Mt, up from 13.3Mt seen late last year.
Excellent summer-crop prospects
In its March crop report, ABARES has described summer-crop prospects in 2021–22 as 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 NSW, where record yields and above-average planted area are forecast.
Production in Central Queensland (CQ) is also forecast to be above average, but less favourable than other regions.
This is mainly because drier conditions during January in CQ limited planting opportunities for late-sown summer crops.
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 per cent in 2021–22 from 2020-21 to 5.3Mt, the fourth highest on record.
Area planted to summer crops is estimated to have increased by 48pc to around 1.5 million hectares, 35pc above the 10-year average to 2021–22.
Rising dam storages have boosted plantings of irrigated cotton and rice, and well above-average spring and summer rainfall has also increased plantings to dryland cotton and grain sorghum.
Australia’s cotton crop will be picked in coming months and is expected to be the second-largest on record, yielding 1,387,000t of cottonseed, up from 728,000t in 2020-21, and 162,000t in 2019-20.
Winter crop a record
National winter-crop production is estimated to be the highest on record at 61.9Mt, up from 58.4Mt forecast in December.
The 6pc lift has been driven by record production in Western Australia and near-record production in NSW, with production in other states also estimated to be well above average.
“Winter crop harvests have smashed our expectations back in December,” ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said.
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.
“It hasn’t all been smooth sailing – the effects of a wet spring and summer have meant that a lot of the grain in NSW has been subject to weather damage and a degradation in quality,” Dr Greenville said.
However, record November rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and NSW led to widespread flooding, weather damage and delays to winter crop harvests.
Widespread downgrades of wheat quality in NSW have been reported, and an unprecedented amount of low-protein and feed-quality wheat from NSW 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.
|WHEAT PRODUCTION||5yr avg to 2020-21||2019-20||2020-21||2021-22 Dec estimate||2021-22 Mar estimate|
Table 1: Tonnes of wheat produced in all Australian states. Source: ABARES
|BARLEY PRODUCTION||5yr avg to 2020-21||2019-20||2020-21||2021-22 Dec estimate||2021-22 Mar estimate|
|TOTAL TONNES||10,960 ,000||10,127,000||13,093,000||13,285,000||13,724,000|
Table 2: Tonnes of barley produced in all Australian states. Source: ABARES
|CANOLA PRODUCTION||5yr avg to 2020-21||2019-20||2020-21||2021-22 Dec estimate||2021-22 Mar estimate|
Table 3: Tonnes of canola produced in all Australian states. Source: ABARES