Record highs for winter crops

February 25, 2017

Co-owner of Jenharwill Baling Darryl Jenson standing in a hay crop on his Hunter property.

Australia’s winter crop harvest is almost complete and generally favourable seasonal conditions have pushed production to unprecedented levels, with all mainland states set to achieve record highs.

According to the Australian Crop Report, released last week by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, total winter crop production is estimated to have increased by 49 per cent in 2016-17 to 58.9million tonnes.

ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said this estimate represented a 12 per cent upward revision to the December 2016 forecast.

‘‘The revised winter crop estimate was the result of yields being higher than anticipated and reaching previously unseen levels in most regions,’’ Mr Gooday said.

‘‘On the flip side, drier and warmer than average seasonal conditions in the cropping regions of Queensland and northern NSW over the past three months have reduced prospects for summer crop production in 2016-17.

‘‘The timing and quantity of rainfall over the remainder of the season will be critical to the ongoing development of dryland summer crops.

‘‘That said, with summer planting now largely complete, the total area planted is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent in 2016-17 to around 1.4million hectares, with total summer crop production forecast to rise by 12 per cent to 4.2million tonnes.

‘‘Rice production is forecast to be around 870000tonnes from 250000tonnes in 2015-16, with the area planted estimated to be about four times higher in 2016-17 than the previous year.’’

Seasonal conditions through spring and into harvest were favourable for winter crops in Victoria.

Waterlogging, lodging (fallen crops) and frost events adversely affected crops in some regions but impacts were not widespread.

The estimated high yields and long growing season resulted in lower than average protein levels in some wheat and barley crops.

Statewide average screenings and falling numbers (a measure of starch content) have been favourable.

Total winter crop production in Victoria is estimated to have more than doubled in 2016-17 to 10.2million tonnes.

Average yields are expected to be much larger than the well below average yields of 2015-16.

Planted area is estimated to have increased by three per cent to 3.3millionhectares.

Wheat production is estimated to have more than doubled in 2016-17 to 5.2million tonnes, largely driven by a 133 per cent increase in the average yield to a record high of 3.4tonnes/ha.

Planted area is estimated to have increased by seven per cent to 1.6millionhectares.

Barley production is estimated to have increased by 137 per cent in 2016-17 to 3.2million tonnes, driven by a record average yield of 3.4tonnes/ha.

Lodging and black tipping was most significant for early planted barley.

Canola production is estimated to have doubled in 2016-17 to 700000 tonnes, driven by an estimated record average yield. Yields and crop quality were not adversely affected by disease.

Planted area is estimated to have fallen by four per cent to 355000ha.

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