AUSTRALIA’s winter crop production is forecast to fall by 3 per cent in 2019–20 to 29.4 million tonnes (Mt), down 13pc from the production forecast in September, according to ABARES’ December Crop Report released today.
ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said the revised forecast reflected early spring conditions that were poorer than expected in most cropping regions, particularly in Western Australia and southern New South Wales.
“Forecast winter production is around 27 per cent below the 10-year average to 2018–19 and is set to fall for the third consecutive year since record high production was achieved in 2016–17,” Mr Gooday said.
“Below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures during spring reduced winter crop prospects in most cropping regions—but the changes in Western Australia and southern New South Wales had the biggest impact on national production prospects.
“High fodder prices and unfavourable seasonal conditions caused some crops planted for grains and oilseeds production to be cut for hay in regions with low levels of soil moisture at the beginning of spring.”
Winter crop production in Victoria is expected to account for around 24pc of national production this season, compared to an average of 16pc over the 10-years to 2018–19.
For the major winter crops, national wheat production is forecast to decrease by 8pc to around 15.9Mt, 35pc below the 10-year average to 2018–19.
Barley production is forecast to increase by 4pc to around 8.7Mt, 3pc cent below the 10-year average to 2018–19.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 4pc to around 2.1Mt, 35p below the 10-year average to 2018–19.
Amongst other crops, chickpea production is forecast to rise by 2pc to 289,000 tonnes and oats production is forecast to rise by 5pc to 935,000 tonnes.
Drought cuts summer crop prospects
Mr Gooday said according to the latest three-month rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, summer rainfall was likely to be very much below average in most parts of Queensland and northern NSW.
“A combination of the unfavourable summer outlook and very much below average levels of soil moisture at the end of spring means summer crop production is forecast to decline by 52pc to around 1.2Mt, which is 69pc below the 10-year average to 2018-19,” he said.
“The area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 49pc in 2019–20 to around 535,000 hectares, driven by significant expected falls in area planted to grain sorghum and cotton.”
The Australian crop report December 2019 is available here.