Crop plantings set the stage for record harvest from 2022-23 winter season

Winter crop plantings in 2022–23 have already been tallied at the second highest on record at 23.432 million hectares just a smidgeon under the record 23.450 million hectares planted last year – with more paddocks to be added

Winter season 2022-23 will be remembered as the turning point that gained an export foothold into northern hemisphere markets and allowed local growers to expand their operations

If growers that endured three of the driest seasons on record starting back in 2017-18 believed they were due for a break, they will be paid back fully with three winter cropping seasons now in line to record three out of the four best harvests of all time.

This run of good luck started with the very welcome drought breaking season of 2020-21 with a 55.8 million tonnes harvest, this gave growers the confidence needed to increase plantings and maintain the upward momentum.

And it paid off, from that second best season on record at the time, 2020-21 was followed by the current record holder, season 2021-22 with a burgeoning haul of 62.0 million tonnes that was entirely due to a new state record from WA, almost 5.0 million tonnes higher than its previous best harvest.

This sets the scene for current season 2022-23 to not only break the Australian winter harvest record but it will also be a season that offers local growers a path to international recognition as a world supplier of quality grain into the northern hemisphere.

While world events don’t normally have a big bearing on a mixed cropping livestock farm 40km away from Narromine in central NSW, but for winter season 2022-23 the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has changed the face of farming.

The devastation of Ukraine farmlands takes away 11% of the world export supply of Wheat, estimated at 20 million tonnes and that will need to be replaced by another supplier, and the best positioned to do just that are local growers.

Northern hemisphere markets are opening for our locally grown canola for the very first time

Canola exports

Canola exports will also be heavily affected as Ukraine was the third-largest exporter of canola into world markets after Australia and Canada.

Locally grown canola has already seen strong demand from European countries that would normally buy from Canada or the Ukraine.

A record 857,800 tonnes of canola was shipped from here in March 2022, and between April and June 2022 alone it is expected to see our dwindling canola reserves leave here at the rate of 600,000 tonnes a month.

It is estimated canola exports will soon reach 4.8 million tonnes from the 2021-22 season supply where 6.5 million tonnes were harvested.

Wheat export

World markets will not have long to wait, to find out just how devastating the Ukraine invasion has been as harvesting would normally take place there in July.

Depending on what happens to the Ukraine market and just how it could be shipped anyway through worn-torn front lines will determine the price of export grain moving forward.

And for world wheat marketers the chance of finding any other northern hemisphere country to supply the Ukraine shortfall is very unlikely.

China has traditionally been the biggest wheat producing country at 133 million tonnes, followed by India with around 105 million tonnes while the combined European Union lump all their harvest together to average 150 million tonnes a year.

But, for the July 2022 harvest in the northern hemisphere, the expectations are not for an average season.

Wheat harvested from our winter season 2022-23 could make its way into northern hemisphere markets not previously coveted

The coming Chinese harvest has been affected by floods and COVID-19 sanctions, and this has been enough for China to halt any further export sales of its wheat reserves. A surprise to many as the Chinese wheat reserve is said to be equivalent to 50% of the current world supply.

Meanwhile, from the second-highest wheat producer, Indian wheat harvest expectations are so glum the country has banned any further exports at present.

Those looking to the US for a hand-out from the next harvest will have to contend with that country’s worst harvest since 2011, far short of the 50 million tonnes they would normally contribute.

As a comparison, our upcoming local 2022/23 harvest at a high-end record estimate of 65 million tonnes will include around 38 million tonnes of wheat. Of our annual wheat production tally, we have until now been exporting from 65 to 70% from each season, around 25 million tonnes.

With Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands opening the door to canola imports from Australia, wheat exports could soon be diverted to those countries and compete with our traditional markets of South Korea, China, Taiwan, Philippines and South Africa.

All the circumstances are strong pointers to some of the highest wheat prices ever paid for our local produce.

Local growers are in a position to break all previous planting records with 23.432 million hectares already planted down and chasing the current record of 23.450 million hectares planted last year

How local growers are placed

It was the above average rainfall during February and April that gave winter season 2022–23 growers the confidence they needed to spend their previous season record earnings on the essentials, seed and fertiliser.

The high soil moisture profile never looked better following those rain events and growers in every part of the country cranked up their planting regime for what is expected to be revealed as the biggest planting ever undertaken.

Growers in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia went ahead without hesitation, and it was only the waterlogging and wet conditions that stalled some Queensland and New South Wales growers who were filled with strong planting intentions.

Almost perfect growing conditions has already driven the area planted down with winter seed for season 2022‑23 to 23.432 million hectares, nearly level with the all-time record set last year at 23.450 million hectares.

The planting record from 2021-22 will tumble as parts of New South Wales and Queensland dry out enough for planting to take place, and still be added to the tally.

With growers chasing the expected high prices for wheat and canola it is expected we will see a 1% increase in the national area planted to wheat, and a 12% increase in area planted to canola.

Growers that toiled with barley for several seasons have jumped onto the wheat and canola gravy train and as a result plantings of barley will be down across the board in most states and that perennial favourite, chickpeas in Queensland and New South Wales are also expected to be reduced, in favour of planting the gravy train crops.

The enthusiastic plantings for the 2022-23 winter crop have the potential to pass the record breaker from last year, with as much as a 65 million tonnes of crop being taken off at harvest.

Of course, for this to happen conditions will need to be perfect across the next five months and we will need to see wheat production reach a record 39 million tonnes, and canola production to break through the 7 million tonnes barrier.

Here is a summary of where the budding record plantings have been placed so far.

Growers in WA will be expecting another near-record grain harvest following a strong planting at a record high of 8.88 million hectares

Western Australia

The area already planted to winter crops for season 2022-23 in WA has increased to a record high of almost 8.9 million/ha, beating the previous record of 8.8 million/ha set in 2021–22.

Growers never looked back at any time during the planting season with the vision of high crop commodity prices and supportive seasonal conditions.

The increase in area planted was supported by new cropping ground being opened in eastern regions of the state. Tempting fate with previous unproven ground in marginal country, but the rewards could be substantial if rain appears.

Growers are chasing the big returns expected from wheat and canola, and as a result, the area planted for those two crops has increased at the expense of barley, oats and lupins.

The area planted to wheat in WA has increased by 1% in 2022-23 to 4.95 million/ha, 6% above the 10-year average.

The highest production from wheat plantings in WA was in season 2021-22 when a record 12.8 million tonnes was harvested from 4.90 million/ha planted.

The area planted to canola in WA increased by 10% in 2022-23 to an all-time record high of 1.7 million/ha. This increase is substantial when you consider plantings already increased by 35% in season 2021-22 and reflects the high margins expected by growers.

The area planted to barley in WA in 2022-23 continues its fall from grace as growers realise their old favourite is not offering the returns available from wheat and canola. As a result, plantings decreased by 3% in 2022-23 to 1.55 million hectares.

The area planted to lupin came off even worse and following a heavy fall in 2021-22 growers were only prepared to plant 300,000 hectares in season 2022-23, a fall of 14%.

While final production results for lupin are also expected to suffer from a forecast total down to 450,000 tonnes, 18% below the 10-year average, mainly due to the lower planting.

Cropping ground planted by WA growers for wheat, barley, canola, lupins and other minor crops reached a record high of 8.88 million hectares.

Early stats place winter crop yields for WA at above average, due to the favourable start to the season and excellent levels of soil moisture at planting.

With the only danger being winter rainfall expected to be below average, and while sufficient to achieve above average yields, growers will need some additional rainfall to achieve record results to match last year.

New South Wales growers had to endure much wetter conditions than normally expected in some growing regions and were also kept busy with harvesting bumper summer crops but still managed to plant 6.047 million hectares

New South Wales

With an excellent start to the winter cropping season in New South Wales, it encouraged most growers to realise their strong planting intentions.

High levels of soil moisture at the time of planting and the favourable winter rainfall outlook are also expected to support very high yield potentials.

The area currently planted to winter crops in New South Wales has been tallied at a very positive 6.04 million hectares, remaining 13% above the 10-year average to 2021–22 but falling by 2% compared to last year.

There will still be more planted ground to add to NSW as the state is capable of planting down 6.4 million hectares to winter crops.

This result came as autumn rainfall in most cropping regions reached above their 80th percentile of historical years, providing timely and solid conditions for the planting of winter crops.

However, in some parts of central and northern New South Wales, heavy and ongoing rainfall during late autumn did limit access to some paddocks and that did prevent some growers from planting a full program.

If waterlogging issues persist in these areas during June, then some of these paddocks will likely be left fallow over winter and planted to summer crops later in the year.

Excellent seasonal conditions have allowed growers to focus plantings on the gravy train returns that are expected from wheat and canola, with the lure of expected higher prices for these crops relative to others.

Area planted to wheat has already reached just under 3.7 million hectares, and that is just 1% less than the planting from last year.

Some of the expected wheat ground has been sown down to canola in central and northern NSW and as a result the area planted to canola has jumped by 15% to 920,000 hectares. With most of this increase being largely at the expense of area planted to barley and chickpeas.

The area planted to wheat in NSW held steady to be down just 1% in 2022-23 to around 3.65 million hectares, but this is still 18% above the 10-year average.

The highest production from wheat plantings in NSW was in season 2020-21 when a record 13.1 million tonnes was harvested from 3.80 million/ha planted.

The area planted to canola in NSW is where the smart money continues to trend and following a massive increase of 27% last year to sow 700,000 hectares.

In season 2022-23 that trend continues with a further 15% jump in plantings across 920,000 hectares with the promise of record high canola prices.

The area planted to barley in NSW fell for the second consecutive season, this time by 9% to 820,000 hectares. It is hard to see why growers will persist with stock grade barley as much better returns are on offer from wheat and canola.

Across all winter crop plantings, NSW growers have been prepared to plant 6.047 million hectares so far, while keeping an additional barrel for strong summer crop plantings moving forward.

Growers on the Eyre Peninsular in SA embraced the future and went all out with increased canola plantings that are expected to return the highest income for winter season 2022-23

South Australia

Growers in South Australia could not all be lumped in together this year as some growing districts had a mixed start to the 2022–23 winter planting season.

For instance, growers on the Eyre Peninsula received decent rainfall and as a result were able to get on with the job of planting within their ideal time frame and expected high cash crop canola.

However, growing regions further to the east, such as the Yorke Peninsula, received far less rainfall early on, which made it more problematic for growers in that area.

We are all waiting for a season where SA gets its fair share of rainfall across all regions and when that happens a bumper harvest is on the cards.

But for this year it is pretty much steady as it goes, with the area planted to 2022-23 winter crops expected to increase by 2% to just over 3.8 million hectares

In response to high international crop prices for wheat and canola relative to other crops, growers in SA also jumped on the burgeoning gravy train for the chance to gain a higher income.

The area planted to wheat in SA has increased slightly by 4% at around 2.150 million hectares. The incentive to plant provided by high prices is expected to offset unfavourable planting conditions.

The highest production from wheat plantings in SA was in season 2016-17 when a record 6.13 million tonnes was harvested from 2.17 million/ha planted.

The area planted to canola in SA has risen by 11% to 255,000 hectares.

Mainly due to the enthusiasm showed by Eyre Peninsula growers who benefitted from favourable planting conditions, and if conditions hold growers could see a valuable windfall as a result of the switch from lower income crops.

The area planted to barley in SA showed the long-term preference for this crop by local growers for crop rotations and as a result, remained largely unchanged at around 820,000 hectares.

This high importance placed on planting barley is SA does tend to drive yields in the state to a lower level than what is expected from other crops.

But we are seeing a very slight break-away and greater uptake of genetically modified (GM) canola that is expected to increase average yield potentials. GM canola is less prone to damage from weeds and often produces higher yields than non-GM canola as a result.

Growers in SA played it very cautiously once again and as they looked to the heavens were only prepared to stump up 3.815 million hectares for the 2022-23 winter cropping season.

A slight 4% increase on last year but it does include a chase to higher returns for some growers that have placed their faith in canola to buy a new Ute.

Conditions for Victorian growers were perfect all season and allowed them to realise a planting of 3.427 million hectares in season 2022-23


It sometimes appears as though Victorian growers don’t have to do much more than stay on average plantings to return higher levels of income each year.

Because here we go again, seasonal conditions in Vic were favourable for all growers across the state for the start of the 2022–23 winter planting season.

It was the above average rainfall and soil moisture levels in April that growers expected and allowed them to take advantage of ideal conditions to start winter plantings.

And it couldn’t get much better as slightly drier conditions in May gave operators access into every paddock across the state and finish plantings in an ideal time frame for the best results.

And to finish that off, upper layer soil moisture across May was expected to be ideal for supporting crop germination and establishment.

And while there is no noticeable change to the area planted, above average yields are currently expected due to soil moisture levels and the wet rainfall outlook over winter. In particular, growers in the Mallee region are expecting a top result from their increased area planted to canola where timely sowing was enabled by favourable autumn conditions.

Increased area planted for wheat is also expected in response to international prices that are rising at a fast pace.

Wheat and canola area is expected to increase at the expense of area planted to other crops including barley.

The area planted to wheat in Vic has jumped slightly by 2% in winter season 2022-23 to 1.55 million hectares. Sitting neatly on the 10-year average.

With the weight of the Mallee behind it, the area planted to canola in Vic has broken through the 500,000 hectares barrier to 550,000 hectares in 2022-23, a 12% increase from 2021–22. This planted area for canola is the highest on record.

The area planted to barley in Vic is following the national trend and has fallen by 7% to 790,000 hectares in 2022-23. With Vic growers wise to the higher returns expected from wheat and canola.

A steady as-it-goes approach by growers in Vic has realised a planting of 3.427 million hectares in season 2022-23. And that’s at the high end of the scale with 3.534 million hectares holding the record spot from season 2019-20.

Through wet and rainy conditions that never ended Queensland growers planted down 1.2 million hectares to winter crops in 2022-23


As Queensland growers are well aware this winter, if it doesn’t rain it pours, and those are the unholy conditions Qld growers have faced all of the 2022-23 winter planting season.

Exceptionally wet conditions across major crop growing areas are expected to continue showing a decrease in planting area and possibly yields as a result.

And due to excessive feed, most mixed farm operations in Qld are carrying higher livestock numbers and this is further reducing available cropping land.

The persistence of a La Niña event through autumn 2022 has contributed to well above average rainfall in Queensland cropping regions and played havoc with the critical planting period in May.

To make matters worse, wet conditions did restrict paddock access, both preventing the harvest of remaining summer crops and the planting of winter crops.

In southern Queensland, it followed substantial rainfall in late summer, and growers will require several weeks of dry conditions before planting activities can resume.

If further rainfall prevents paddock access throughout June, many growers may opt to fallow land until spring for the planting of summer crops.

However, on the flip side, the recent rainfall has provided a much-needed boost to soil moisture levels, for growers based in Central Qld, following a relatively dry summer.

As a result, planting albeit a little later than usual is likely to resume much sooner in Central Qld than in other parts of the state.

The development of a negative Indian Ocean Dipole in the Indian Ocean is expected to result in above average rainfall across Queensland cropping regions throughout winter 2022.

High international wheat prices are expected to drive an increase in wheat area planting across Qld cropping regions compared to 2021–22, especially in Central Qld.

But this is fortuitous as limited import demand from India, as well as a large stockpile of chickpeas remaining on-farm from last winter, has contributed to low chickpeas prices.

Moreover, the wet conditions favour the planting of winter cereal crops.

Following a high-yielding year in 2021–22, and the significant risk of conditions being too wet, yields are expected to decrease for all winter crops.

The area planted to winter crops in Qld has shrunk overall by 7% to 1.2 million hectares in 2022-23. Not a bad result considering the excessive rain and reinvestment in wheat plantings will bring in some high returns in this third good year in a row.

The area planted to wheat in Qld has increase by 7% to 885,000 hectares in 2022-23.

The increased wheat planting has largely come at the expense of the area usually planted to the perennial favourite chickpeas.

The highest production from wheat plantings in Qld was in season 2021-22 when a record 1.82 million tonnes was harvested from 829,000 hectares planted.

The area planted to Barley in Qld in 2022-23 has declined by 9% to 133,000 hectares. This decline reflects the current shift to plant wheat for higher returns.

The area planted to chickpeas has decreased by a whopping 37% in 2022-23 in response to the over-burden of chickpea reserves and land given over to the more favourable prices expected for wheat. Only 185,000 hectares of chickpea were planted in Qld.

Tasmanian growers supplied half of the grain produced in Australia in 1842 and are now making a comeback to improve their current position of just 0.2% for season 2022-23 with the aid of hardier seed varieties


When you consider Tasmania produced 52% of the country’s total production of wheat in 1842, you have to ask, ‘where did it all go wrong.’

It wasn’t an overnight disaster that waylaid Tassie farmers, but a more lingering case of production costs outweighing income.

By 1898 Tassie growers were still holding onto a 5% share of total grain production, and that equated to around a 100,000 tonnes harvest.

With dryer conditions gripping the state and an underwhelming lack of irrigation infrastructure growers were simply left to their own devices to stave off the eventual demise of their grain industry.

An improvement on those 100,000 tonnes harvested over 120 years ago would see the state cover its 200,000 tonnes of estimated local livestock feed consumption and save considerably on shipping costs.

With the advent of more recent successful Irrigation water licenses the industry is once again considering a vast improvement on the 60,000 tonnes grain harvest it is said to muster from each winter season planting, 0.2% of Australia’s production.

This transformation of Tassie’s grain industry will eventually mean the end of the state’s dependence on grain imports and the supply of all the produce required to feed livestock.

The area planted to winter crops in TAS has remained steady around 30,000 hectares in 2022-23. With wheat taking up most of that quota with 16,000 hectares planted, followed by a consistent performer in Barley with 7,200 hectares planted.

Other winter crops grown in TAS include canola and oats with an estimated 5,000 and 2,000 hectares planted respectively in winter season 2022-23.