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 Rain too late for early sown summer crops

12 February 2013

Heatwave conditions in early to mid–January and until recently, below average rainfall across the major summer cropping regions, have resulted in a less than favourable summer cropping season, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

In releasing the Australian Crop Report today, ABARES Executive Director, Paul Morris, said heavy rainfall in late January is expected to benefit late sown summer crops and increase the area planted to some summer crops with a later planting window, but had come too late to benefit early sown crops.

“The drier and warmer conditions in late spring and early summer have resulted in many producers not fully realising their planting intentions for grain sorghum and reduced yield prospects,” Mr Morris said.

Compared with record production last year, ABARES forecast total summer crop production to be around 13 per cent lower in 2012–13, at 4.8 million tonnes. This is around 14 per cent higher than the average of 4.2 million tonnes over the five years to 2011–12.

Grain sorghum production is forecast to decrease by 23 per cent to 1.7 million tonnes in 2012–13 and production of cotton lint and seed is forecast to fall by 21 per cent each to 945,000 tonnes and 1.3 million tonnes, respectively. In contrast, rice production is forecast to rise by 15 per cent to around 1.1 million tonnes.

“The recent flooding in some summer cropping regions has so far only caused minor damage to summer crops,” Mr Morris said.

Generally dry conditions during the growing season in the winter cropping zone are estimated to have resulted in winter crop production falling by 22 per  cent in 2012–13 to 35.8 million tonnes, but represent a marginal upward revision from the forecast of 35.1 million tonnes released by ABARES in December 2012.

For the major winter crops in 2012–13, wheat production is estimated to have reached around 22 million tonnes, down from last year’s record of 29.9 million tonnes; barley production is estimated to have reached 7.1 million tonnes; and canola production is estimated to have been 3.1 million tonnes.

Mr Morris said the winter crop harvest in Queensland and New South Wales was completed before the recent flooding and was largely complete in south–eastern Australia before the recent bushfires started.

The Australian Crop Report is available at www.daff.gov.au/abares/publications.

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