Australian food crop production expected to improve on last year

Posted by Editorial on 17th June 2009

There is optimism regarding winter crop planting and production because of recent rains across the Australian grains belt, according to ABARE’s June issue of the Australian crop report.”Rainfall in late May and early June was timely for those winter crops that had already been sown and provided an opportunity for remaining planting intentions to be realised,” Phillip Glyde, Executive Director of ABARE, said upon releasing the report.

The area sown to winter crops in Australia is forecast to be 21.9 million hectares in 2009-10, an increase of 1 per cent from the previous season. Assuming average yields, winter crop production is forecast to be around 34.8 million tonnes in 2009-10, around 1.6 million tonnes more than the previous season’s harvest.

“The amount and timing of rainfall during the rest of the season will critically affect the extent to which these production outcomes are achieved,” Mr Glyde cautioned.

The area planted to wheat in 2009-10 is forecast to remain above 13 million hectares for the second consecutive year. Total wheat production is forecast to be around 22 million tonnes in 2009-10 compared with 21.4 million tonnes harvested in 2008-09.

The area sown to barley is forecast to decline by around 1 per cent, but production is forecast to increase by 13 per cent to 7.7 million tonnes in 2009-10, assuming average yields.

The area planted to canola is forecast to increase in 2009-10. However, as yields are expected to decline from last season, particularly in Western Australia, production is forecast to decline by around 9 per cent in 2009-10.

Mr Glyde noted that total summer crop production in 2008-09 is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, 11 per cent lower than the record achieved in 2007-08.

“Grain sorghum yields were above average for a second consecutive year, but did not match the 2007-08 record. Grain sorghum production is estimated to have been 2.3 million tonnes in 2008-09, compared with 3.1 million tonnes harvested in the previous year,” Mr Glyde advised.

Rice production will more than double but remains well below historical averages.