Dry seasonal conditions cut Australia’s summer crop prospects; wheat output down to 11-year low


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Drier and warmer than average seasonal conditions in cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales during December and January have reduced prospects of summer crop production in 2018–19 after wheat output fell to 11-year low, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) said in a report.

The final wheat harvest total for the year was 17.3 million tonnes, down from 21.2 million tonnes the previous year, ABARES said.

ABARES acting Executive Director Mr Peter Gooday said the unfavourable seasonal conditions curtailed planting of dryland summer crops in the latter part of the planting window, lowered soil moisture levels and reduced yield prospects of dryland crops.

“Total area planted to summer crops is estimated to have decreased by 23 per cent in 2018–19 to around 1.0 million hectares, mainly because of falls in area planted to cotton and rice. Production is forecast to fall by 33 per cent to around 2.7 million tonnes,” Gooday said in a statement.

According to Gooday, production of all the major summer crops is forecast to fall—cotton by 44 per cent to 581,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 821,000 tonnes of cottonseed, grain sorghum by 9 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes, and rice by 83 per cent to 104,000 tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to have risen marginally in 2018–19 to 537,000 hectares, while that planted to cotton is estimated to have fallen by 44 per cent to 280,000 hectares due to below average rainfall in 2018 into irrigation dams and low levels of soil moisture.

“Area planted to rice is estimated to have fallen by 83 per cent to 10,000 hectares because of low water allocations and high water prices in southern New South Wales.”

Total Australian winter crop production is estimated to have decreased by 20 per cent in 2018–19 to 30.4 million tonnes because of below average yields in the eastern states.

“Production of all major winter crops is estimated to have fallen—wheat by 19 per cent to 17.3 million tonnes, barley by 7 per cent to 8.3 million tonnes and canola by 41 per cent to 2.2 million tonnes,” he said.

Lower Australian wheat output has supported global benchmark prices, which rallied about 18% in 2018.

Wheat planting for the 2019-20 season will begin in April.



Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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