Crop production to fall short of forecasts

Posted by Isobel Drake on 14th December 2009

Winter wheat and barley crop production is likely to be higher this year despite recent rains ensuring the harvest will not quite meet expectations. Current summer cropping, however, is weaker than last year, with total wheat planting area forecast to decline by nine per cent.

“A lack of rainfall over the summer cropping regions in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland has resulted in little grain sorghum planting so far,” said Dr Terry Sheales, Deputy Executive Director, ABARE, on releasing the December issue of the Australian crop report.

However, the area planted to rice is forecast to increase significantly in 2009-10, to 18,600 hectares, compared with 8,000 hectares in 2008-09 because of an increase in the availability of irrigation water.

In contrast to summer crops, Dr Sheales noted that winter crop production is expected to be higher than in 2008-09, but below ABARE’s September 2009 forecast.

“Conditions deteriorated over spring in Western Australia, Queensland and, in particular, central west and southern New South Wales. Winter crop production in New South Wales has been revised down significantly from our earlier forecasts. Cropping regions in Western Australia were affected by lack of rain toward the end of spring and, as a result, production has been revised down from earlier expectations.”

Partially offsetting these declines were improved growing conditions across cropping regions in South Australia and Victoria, where average rainfall was recorded over spring.

“However, with harvest still underway in these states and Western Australia, recent rains may affect the quality of the harvest,” Dr Sheales advised.

The final size of the 2009 winter crop is estimated at 35.7 million tonnes, an increase of 6 per cent from 2008-09. Wheat production is estimated at 22 million tonnes, lower than ABARE’s September forecast, but 5 per cent higher than 2008-09 production. Barley production is estimated at around 8.3 million tonnes, up 8 per cent from last season’s production. Canola production is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes in 2009-10, which is around 5 per cent lower than 2008-09 production.