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ABARES forecasts total summer crops at 4.6Mt

Grain Central, June 10, 2024

Filling gin yards like this one at Boggabri in northern NSW are evidence of the big cotton crop that has now mostly been picked. Photo: Namoi Cotton

AUSTRALIA’S summer-crop production is forecast to reach 4.6 million tonnes for 2023-24, according to ABARES June Crop Report released last week.

Overall tonnage for the crop, now in the final stretch of harvest in the eastern states, will remain above average but 11 percent below last season’s highs.

ABARES has revised up the total production estimates by 8pc compared to the March Crop Report, following better than expected seasonal conditions during late spring and summer in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“Falling production reflects an overall fall in planted area more than offsetting higher forecast yields,” the report said.

ABARES highlighted that harvesting of some summer crops had been delayed by autumn storms and rain across key summer cropping regions.

“This has resulted in a fall in grain and lint quality in some unharvested crops but did not significantly affect the production volumes of most later maturing crops.

“It is likely that higher yields in other areas will more than offset any downgrades caused by wet harvest conditions.”

In total, Queensland is set to produce 2Mt of summer crops in 2023-24, down by 22pc on 2022-23, but 7pc higher than the March forecast.

NSW production will remain steady at 2.5Mt, an upward revision of 10pc from March and 37pc above the 10-year average to 2022–23.

Sorghum

Although totals will be higher than expected, sorghum production is estimated to fall by 16pc to 2.2Mt in 2023–24.

While it is a drop, the figure represents a 10pc upwards revision from March and it now sits 38pc above the 10-year average to 2022–23.

Strong yields supported by above average rainfall and high soil moisture levels pushed up production in Queensland and NSW.

Fall Armyworm is reported to have caused localised damage in sorghum crops with later sown crops planted from December onwards were most heavily impacted.

ABARES predicts that higher yields in areas unaffected are likely to offset any crop losses caused by Fall Armyworm.

Queensland is forecast to product 1.5Mt of sorghum, down 17pc on last season, but revised up from March due to a better-than-expected finish.

NSW will also see a fall in sorghum production of 13pc to 710,000t.

Area planted to sorghum has been revised up from the previous forecast following rainfall in the later planting window that enabled growers to maximise planted area.

Wet conditions have significantly restricted field access and delayed harvest in both states, inadvertently hindering the start of winter crop planting.

Cotton

Australia’s cotton production is forecast to fall by 13pc to 1.1Mt in 2023-24 but remain 41pc above the 10-year average to 2022-23.

Falling production reflects an estimated drop in area planted to cotton, which will drop by 16pc to 477,000ha, and more than offset higher aggregate yields.

Queensland drove the total drop in production, estimated to fall 39pc to 310,000t due to reduced plantings of both dryland and irrigated cotton.

Plantings were heavily impacted by dry conditions in early spring and lower irrigation water availability.

Despite the fall in area, adequate rainfall and suitable temperatures during the growing season boosted yields.

NSW is expected to harvest more cotton lint than last season, with production estimated to rise by 4pc to 761,000t due to strong yields.

Timely planting of irrigated cotton and high water storages in the southern Murray–Darling Basin have supported an increase in irrigated cotton production across NSW.

Below average rainfall and soil moisture in September and October led to disruptions in dryland cotton planting.

However, above average rainfall in November prompted late planting across the state, leading to higher dryland production than previously anticipated.

Rice

Rice production is estimated to increase 21pc to 607,000t, bucking the trend of other summer crops.

The result is 10pc higher than the March estimate and was driven by generally favourable growing conditions in southern NSW.

Alongside production, the total planted area to rice, forecast at 57,000ha, was also up on the March figures, by 2000ha, and higher than the 2022-23 total by 7,000ha.

Corn

Australia’s corn production is set to drop about 8pc to 379,000t, with a reduction in NSW and Queensland yields hitting overall tonnage.

High levels of Fall Armyworm drove cuts to production of 44,000t for both states despite the area planted to corn remaining stable in Queensland and falling by only 1000ha in NSW.

Victoria looks set to produce a likely record corn crop at 90,000t from 8000ha, 33pc above last season and 36pc above the five-year average.

This result puts Victoria’s corn production on par with Queensland, a more established summer crop growing region.

Western Australia is forecast to see a drop in production, down about 24pc to 23,400t.

Crop 22-23 ha 22-23 tns 23-24 ha Mar 23-24 tns Mar 23-24 ha June 23-24 tns June
Sorghum 480,000 1,690,000 415,000 1,400,000 415,000 1,500,000
Cottonseed 254,000 578,000 122,000 330,000 122,000 310,000
Cotton lint 254,000 480,000 122,000 283,000 122,000 355,000

Table 1: Queensland summer crop hectares and tonnage, 2022-23 to 2023-24

Crop 22-23 ha 22-23 tns 23-24 ha Mar 23-24 tns Mar 23-24 ha June 23-24 tns June
Sorghum 190,000 760,000 165,000 611,000 175,000 710,000
Cottonseed 413,000 841,000 337,000 825,000 337,000 872,000
Cotton lint 413,000 699,000 337,000 719,000 337,000 761,000
Rice 50,000 495,000 55,000 550,000 57,000 607,000

Table 2: NSW summer crop hectares and tonnage, 2022-23 to 2023-24

Source: ABARES

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