Dry spring cuts crop forecasts

Posted by James Ferre on 6th November 2008

A lack of spring rainfall across Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales has resulted in a marked deterioration in the major winter crops.

“These developments have prompted ABARE to revise down its forecasts for Australian wheat, barley and canola production in 2008-09,” Mr Philip Glyde, Executive Director of ABARE said. “Australian wheat production in 2008-09 is now forecast to be 19.9 million tonnes, some 11 per cent less than forecast in September.”

Mr Glyde added that, “despite the poor spring in some areas total wheat production is forecast to be around 7 million tonnes above last year’s drought affected harvest”.

Rainfall in the critical September and October months was well below average in Victoria, resulting in widespread crop failures. Wheat production in Victoria is now forecast to be 1.4 million tonnes in 2008-09, compared with ABARE’s September forecast of 2.7 million tonnes and last season’s harvest of 1.9 million tonnes.

Winter crop prospects have deteriorated in South Australia but there is extreme variability in yield potential across the state. Wheat production is forecast to be 2.3 million tonnes in 2008-09, 1.1 million tonnes below the September forecast and similar to last year’s harvest.

The condition of winter crops in New South Wales varies considerably across the state. Mr Glyde noted “the north of the state and most of the central west are expecting average to above average yields, whereas crops in western areas of the state and much of the south are in poor condition”. As a result, New South Wales’ wheat production is forecast to be similar to the September figure of around 6.6 million tonnes, with the effect of poor conditions in the south being offset by better conditions in the north and central west.

Late frost across parts of the Western Australia grains belt may affect grain quality and has resulted in some crop losses. Despite this setback, a forecast wheat crop of around 7.8 million tonnes is 1.7 million tonnes better than last year’s outcome. Harvest has commenced in Queensland and the quality and quantity of grain is better than originally anticipated.

Australian barley production is forecast to be 6.3 million tonnes in 2008-09, a 20 per cent decline from ABARE’s September forecast. Canola production is forecast to be 1.3 million tonnes in 2008-09, a decline of nearly 320,000 tonnes from the September forecast.