June 14, 2012
Dry seasonal conditions have resulted in a slow start to the winter cropping season, but plantings are now well underway across Australia. According to the June edition of the Australia Crop Report, released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), dry periods experienced in eastern Australia have been interspersed by timely rainfall, replenishing soil moisture profiles. ABARES acting Executive Director, Kim Ritman, said conditions for crop planting and establishment have generally been poor in Western Australia. “Winter crop production will be reliant on timely rainfall over winter and spring, particularly in Western Australia and some eastern cropping areas where sandy soils have lower water holding capacity,” Dr Ritman said. The total area planted to winter crops in Australia is forecast to fall by 2 per cent in 2012–13 to around 22.2 million hectares. Assuming timely rainfall over winter and spring and a fall from the high yields achieved last season, total winter crop production is forecast to fall by 15 per cent to around 38.5 million tonnes. The area sown to wheat and barley is forecast to fall by 5 per cent and 4 per cent to around 13.4 and 3.9 million hectares, respectively, with total wheat and barley production forecast to decline by 18 per cent and 15 per cent to 24.1 and 7.3 million tonnes, respectively. Canola production is forecast to increase by 4 per cent to a record 2.9 million tonnes and favourable canola prices are forecast to drive a 23 per cent increase in area planted in 2012–13 to a record 2.1 million hectares. Harvesting of the 2011–12 summer crops is nearing completion and total production is estimated to have increased by 19 per cent to around 5.5 million tonnes. This reflects higher yields for grain sorghum and cotton, and an increase in the area planted to rice. Production is estimated to have increased for cotton lint by 20 per cent to around 1.1 million tonnes; grain sorghum by 13 per cent to around 2.3 million tonne and rice by 32 per cent to 955,000 tonnes. “Flooding occurred in parts of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in early 2012 and while some producers in these states have suffered hardship, the overall effect on the total summer crop production was small,” Dr Ritman said.