Slow rainfall to drive winter yields down 39 per cent

Winter crop production is slated to fall by almost 40 per cent as below average rainfall crimps yields, the national agriculture forecaster has warned.

ABARES has revised its winter crop forecasts in a report released on Tuesday, predicting total production to fall 39 per cent to 36.3 million tonnes in 2017-18, on decreases in most major crop categories.

Wheat production is forecast to decrease by 38 per cent to 21.6 million tonnes, barley production by 40 per cent to 8 million tonnes and canola production by 33 per cent to 2.8 million tonnes.

Chickpea production is forecast to fall by 36 per cent to 1.2 million tonnes, while oat production is forecast to decrease by 45 per cent to 1 million tonnes.

“These forecasts will only be achieved if spring rainfall is sufficient and timely, especially in central west New South Wales and the Eyre and Yorke peninsulas in South Australia,” ABARES chief commodity analyst, Peter Gooday, said.

“According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, spring rainfall will likely be around average in most cropping regions.”

Gooday said that while the decrease is significant from the 2016-17 year, it still remains two per cent above the 10-year-average.

“Seasonal conditions were mixed for crops during winter and as a result the condition of crops at the start of spring varied significantly,” he said.

“The decrease for winter crop production largely reflects an expected fall in yields from the exceptionally high yields of 2016–17.”

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