National crop outlook varies as eastern dry grinds on: ABARES

Grain Central September 10, 2019

PROSPECTS for Australian winter crop production in 2019–20 deteriorated over winter because of unfavourable growing conditions in some regions, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, according to ABARES’ Australian Crop Report released today.

Crop prospects vary considerably between the states.

In Victoria, most crops are in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring as a result of generally favourable growing conditions over winter.

Timely winter rainfall in Western Australia boosted yield prospects to around average for most crops in the state after a late break to the season.

Crop prospects in South Australia are mixed but sufficient winter rainfall fell in most major southern growing regions and the Mid-North for crops in these regions to be in reasonable condition at the beginning of spring.  However, crop prospects are generally below average in most northern cropping regions in South Australia.

Seasonal conditions were very unfavourable in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland and winter crop production in these states is forecast to be very much below average.

As in every season, early spring rainfall will be important to final crop outcomes.

According to the latest seasonal outlook, issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 29 August 2019, September rainfall is likely to be above average in WA and below average in most other cropping regions. October rainfall is likely to be below average in most cropping regions.

Winter crop below average

Winter crop production is forecast to rise by 11 per cent in 2019–20 to 33.9 million tonnes (Mt), which is a downward revision of 7pc from the forecast ABARES published in June.

Forecast production is around 16pc below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 10pc to around 19.1Mt, 22pc below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Barley production is forecast to increase by 14pc to around 9.5Mt, 6pc above the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Canola production is forecast to increase by 6pc to around 2.3Mt, 29pc below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

Total area planted to winter crops is estimated to have increased by 6pc in 2019–20 to around 19.1 million hectares (Mha). This reflects the large amount of crop area that was taken out of grain production in 2018–19 and cut for hay.

Big dry cuts summer crop forecast

The area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 28pc in 2019–20 to around 758,000 hectares.

This reflects low levels of soil moisture and an outlook for unfavourable seasonal conditions during spring in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to decline by 21pc in 2019–20 to 391,000 hectares, which is 30pc below the 10-year average to 2018–19.

This forecast fall is due to low soil moisture levels in southern Queensland, which are expected to fall further during spring. However, this is partially offset by improved soil moisture levels and favourable seasonal conditions forecast for spring in some parts of central Queensland.

Low water, price hit cotton prospects

Additionally, falling cotton prices are likely to result in a shift from dry land cotton to grain sorghum. Production is forecast to fall by 22pc to 992,000 tonnes. Yields are assumed to average slightly lower than in 2018–19.

The area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 58pc to 145,000 hectares because dams servicing cotton growing regions have significantly less water than last year.

The projected cotton area is the lowest since 2007–08, when 63,000 hectares was planted.

Production is forecast to decline by 39pc to around 294,000 tonnes of lint and 416,000 tonnes of cottonseed.

Lint yields are forecast to average higher because almost all planting is expected to be irrigated.

The area planted to rice is forecast to remain largely unchanged at low levels in response to low water allocations.

Source: ABARES

The 2019 ABARES Australian Crop Report is available at



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