Welcome late boost to winter crop production in some states

Summer crop hopes lie with grain sorghum as plantings increase by 26 per cent over last year for an expected 1.5 million tonnes production haul

A late season boost to production has held the winter crop in a range of 6 per cent above the ten-year average to 2015-16. This nudges the total winter crop production to 37.8 million tonnes for the 2017-18 season.

The most favourable results for the 2017–18 winter crop harvest rests with growers in some key regions of Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.

Winter crop production in Western Australia reached 14.6 million tonnes in 2017–18, following a good finish to the season. Favourable seasonal conditions during the grain fill period boosted yields in the southern half of the state and allowed crops in central east and northern regions to yield much better than was expected at the start of spring. Planted area was 8.1 million hectares.

Total winter crop production in Victoria fell by 25 per cent to 7.6 million tonnes when compared to 2016–17. And while average yields fell from the record highs of 2016–17, they were still above average. Planted area is estimated to have remained unchanged at 3.3 million hectares.

Total winter crop production in South Australia fell by 38 per cent in 2017–18 to just under 7.0 million tonnes, reflecting large declines in yields from the high yields of 2016–17. Total area planted is estimated to have fallen by around 1 per cent to 3.5 million hectares.

While in contrast, production in Queensland and New South Wales came out even lower than the dire predictions of late 2017.

Total winter crop production in Queensland fell by 58 per cent in 2017–18 to 1.4 million tonnes. Planted area was 1.3 million hectares.

Total winter crop production in New South Wales decreased by 55 per cent to around 7.2 million tonnes in 2017–18, driven by significant falls in yields due to unfavourable seasonal conditions and a reduction in area planted to wheat and barley. Planted area was 4.5 million hectares.

For the major crops overall, production for wheat rests at 21.2 million tonnes, barley sits at 8.9 million tonnes and canola managed 3.7 million tonnes.

Other familiar contenders saw chickpea production tap out at one million tonnes, and oats production only scraped into 1.1 million tonnes.

Even with below average rainfall and above average temperatures over summer, growers turned to Sorghum to replenish their bank balance.

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.

And while the area planted to cotton in 2017–18 fell by around 10 per cent to 500,000 hectares, production is forecast to rise by 12 per cent to 995,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 1.4 million tonnes of cottonseed because of a forecast rise in irrigated cotton yields from the below average yields of last year.

While the area planted to rice is estimated to have decreased by 2 per cent to 80,000 hectares. And as a result, rice production is forecast to decrease by 1 per cent to around 800,000 tonnes.

Overall summer crop plantings increased by two per cent to 1.3 million hectares. With summer crop production forecast to increase by 12 per cent in 2017–18 to around 4.3 million tonnes.