In its latest Australian Crop Report, ABARES said despite a generally favourable start to the 2014–15 winter crop season, different regional conditions have resulted in mixed crop prospects.
Wheat production forecast to decline 10pc
Wheat production is forecast to decline by 10 percent in 2014-15 to 24.2 million tonnes. Barley production is forecast to fall by 21pc to 7.5 million tonnes and canola production is predicted to drop by 10pc to 3.4 million tonnes.
ABARES chief commodity analyst, Jammie Penm, said while there were favourable conditions in South Australia other regions fared less well.
“With major winter crops of wheat, barley and canola forecast to decline in 2014-15, sufficient and timely rainfall during spring will be critical, particularly in areas where soil moisture levels are low.”
Outlook for crops in SA is positive
Mr Penm said the outlook for winter crops in South Australia is positive, reflecting average rainfall during winter and high levels of soil moisture, but generally dry conditions prevailed in many regions of the eastern states and Western Australia.
“In New South Wales, seasonal conditions have been highly variable but on average, crop yields are expected to improve from below average yields in 2013–14.
Conditions are dry in Victoria’s Mallee and Wimmera
“Seasonal conditions have generally been dry in Victoria over winter, particularly in the major growing regions of the Mallee and the Wimmera. In Queensland, rainfall was below average between May and July but above average in August,” he said.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month rainfall outlook for spring does not indicate a strong tendency for either wetter or drier than normal conditions across the major cropping regions in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In most of New South Wales and parts of central Victoria, conditions are likely to be drier than normal.
Summer crop area and production forecast to increase
ABARES is forecasting the area planted to summer crops to rise by 6pc in 2014-15 to 1.2 million hectares, largely because of a substantial increase in area planted to grain sorghum. Total summer crop production is forecast to rise by 12pc to 4.1 million tonnes.
August rainfall was average to above average in major summer cropping regions. However, further rainfall will be required during spring and summer to realise forecast planted area, ABARES said.
The area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by 26pc in 2014-15 to 623,000 hectares and the area planted to rice is predicted to increase 20pc to 91,000 hectares. In contrast, the area planted to cotton is forecast to decline by 28pc to 282,000 hectares.
To view the latest report visit daff.gov.au/abares/publications.