Bumper crop to reap great rewards

Posted by James Ferre on 17th June 2008

While conditions across the Australian grains belt have been variable, a forecast increase in the area planted provides optimism regarding winter grains production in 2008-09, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).

ABARE’s June issue of the Australian Crop Report indicates a good season could be possible – vital given the recent difficult years and current skyrocketing food prices.

“Although substantial areas have been dry sown, the recent rainfall across eastern states has provided the moisture to assist growers to complete intended cropping programs,” said Ms Karen Schneider, acting Executive Director of ABARE, on releasing the report.

The total area sown to winter crops in Australia is forecast to increase by 9 per cent to 22.3 million hectares in 2008-09. Assuming an improvement in yields, winter crop production is forecast to be around 37 million tonnes in 2008-09, 15 million tonnes above the drought affected harvest of last year.

“However, rainfall during the growing season will be critical to these production forecasts being realised,” Ms Schneider cautioned.

The area planted to wheat is forecast to rise by 13 per cent to a record 14 million hectares, with total wheat production forecast to be 23.7 million hectares, almost 11 million tonnes above last year.
Ms Schneider noted that the area planted to barley and canola was also forecast to increase in 2008-09 by 2 per cent and 16 per cent respectively. Total summer crop production in 2007-08 is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, nearly 60 per cent above the 2006-07 drought affected harvest.

The prospect of a bumper season is great news for the many farmers struggling in the wake of years of drought, and could also benefit retailers and manufacturers currently struggling to deal with the impact of escalating food prices.