Australia’s winter crop harvest is almost complete and generally favourable seasonal conditions have pushed production to unprecedented levels, with all mainland states set to achieve record highs.
According to the Australian crop report, released yesterday by ABARES, total winter crop production is estimated to have increased by 49 per cent in 2016–17 to 58.9 million tonnes.
Acting ABARES Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said this estimate represents a 12 per cent upward revision to the December 2016 forecast.
“The revised winter crop estimate was the result of yields being higher than anticipated and reaching previously unseen levels in most regions,” Mr Gooday said.
“On the flip side, drier and warmer than average seasonal conditions in the cropping regions of Queensland and northern New South Wales over the past three months have reduced prospects for summer crop production in 2016–17.
“The timing and quantity of rainfall over the remainder of the season will be critical to the ongoing development of dryland summer crops.
“That said, with summer planting now largely complete, the total area planted is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent in 2016–17 to around 1.4 million hectares, with total summer crop production forecast to rise by 12 per cent to 4.2 million tonnes.”
Mr Gooday also said the area planted to cotton is estimated to have more than doubled in 2016–17 to 557,400 hectares, reflecting favourable supplies of irrigation water, high levels of soil moisture early in the planting window and expected favourable returns from growing cotton.
“Area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased by 66 per cent to 348,000 hectares and area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have increased by 248 per cent to 209,400 hectares,” Mr Gooday said.
“Rice production is forecast to be around 870,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes in 2015–16, with the area planted estimated to be about four times higher in 2016–17 than the previous year.”
The February edition of the Australian crop report is available at ABARES Publications.
GrainGrowers Limited have welcomed the report.
“It’s official, grain growers across all regions of Australia achieved record winter crop production, with total production nearly doubling in 2016/17 from the previous year,” GrainGrowers Chair John Eastburn said.
“The massive crop comes on the back of a generally great season, and we can only imagine what production we may have seen had frost not damaged much of the crop in Western Australia and some of the flood and disease damage across eastern states.
“This scale of production also reflects the strong uptake of innovative practices and technology on farm. Of course it’s also occurred at a time of low grain prices so the pressure is clearly on to develop and expand markets for Australian grain.”