Favourable seasonal conditions in spring and early summer have resulted in the 2017–18 winter crop harvest exceeding expectations in some key growing regions of Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.
ABARES Executive Director, Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said that in contrast, production in Queensland and New South Wales is likely to be lower than the December 2017 ABARES crop forecast.
“Total winter crop production is estimated to have decreased by 36 per cent to 37.8 million tonnes in 2017-18, but with the late season boost to production it looks likely to remain 6 per cent above the ten-year average to 2015-16,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
“For the major crops overall, wheat production is estimated to have decreased by 38 per cent to 21.2 million tonnes, barley by 33 per cent to 8.9 million tonnes and canola by 15 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes.
“Amongst other crops, chickpea production is estimated to have decreased by 49 per cent to one million tonnes, and oats production by 40 per cent to 1.1 million tonnes.”
Below average rainfall and above average temperatures over summer have dented expectations for dryland crop production in 2017–18.
“Unfavourable weather conditions through the hottest months of the year prompted farmers to reconsider their crop planting strategies, which will result in less dryland crop area than anticipated and lower yields,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.
“The area planted to cotton in 2017–18 fell by around 10 per cent to 500,000 hectares, while the area planted to rice is estimated to have decreased by 2 per cent to 80,000 hectares.
“Around 501,000 hectares have been dedicated to grain sorghum plantings over summer—an increase of 26 per cent on the 2016–17 figure. Grain sorghum production is forecast to increase by 44 per cent to around 1.5 million tonnes.
“Planting of summer crops is now largely complete, and planted area is estimated to have increased by two per cent to 1.3 million hectares.
“Summer crop production is forecast to increase by 12 per cent in 2017–18 to around 4.3 million tonnes.”