The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) expects this winter’s crop to be one of the best in years, with rainfall exceeding average for eastern Australia.
ABARE Deputy Executive Director Paul Morris says the Australian crop report indicates eastern Australia has not seen rainfall this prolific in the lead up to the winter cropping season since 2003.
“Rainfall between March and May was the most widespread above average rainfall to be recorded over the eastern states since 2003,” Mr Morris said.
“All but a few cropping regions received more than 100 per cent of their long term average rainfall. However, further rain will be needed to complete planting in some regions and to maintain soil moisture during the growing season.”
Western Australia did not fare as well in the Australian crop report data, with continued dryness over most regions in the state. Western Australia accounted for 36 per cent of Australia’s total winter crop production last season and seasonal conditions over the next few months will be crucial for the final outcome of the national crop in 2010-11.
One downside of the favourable summer and autumn conditions in the eastern states was a significant locust outbreak. Many early sown crops, particularly in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria had to be replanted due to locust damage.
“The effects of the outbreak on the winter crop will not be known until spring but there is the potential for mass hatchings and consequent crop damage,” Mr Morris said.
“Despite the positive start to the season, crop plantings are expected to be down slightly due to lower wheat and barley prices. The total area of winter crops sown in Australia is forecast to fall by around 1 per cent to 22.1 million hectares in 2010-11. Assuming average yields, winter crop production is forecast at 35.1 million tonnes in 2010-11, largely unchanged from the 35.2 million tonnes produced last season.”