DESPITE tough conditions, Australia’s winter crop production for 2015-16 is expected to increase slightly compared with last season, while summer crop plantings are also forecast to rise.
That’s according to the latest Australian Crop Report released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
It forecasts total Australian winter crop production will increase by 2 per cent in 2015-16 to 39.1 million tonnes, compared with 2014-15.
Wheat production is forecast to rise by 1 per cent to 24 million tonnes and barley production is forecast to rise by 2 per cent to around 8.2 million tonnes.
However, canola production is forecast to fall by 14pc to around 3 million tonnes, reflecting a reduction in area planted to canola.
Looking to summer, ABARES is forecasting total area planted to summer crops to increase by 12pc in 2015-16 to around 1.2 million hectares, driven by forecast increases in area planted to grain sorghum and cotton.
However, area planted to rice is forecast to decline significantly, reflecting relatively low irrigation water availability in rice growing regions.
As a result of the forecast fall in rice production, total summer crop production is expected to fall by 4pc to 3.9 million tonnes.
In a statement, ABARES executive director, Karen Schneider, said the winter crop production outlook is in line with the revised outlook published by ABARES in October.
“This is despite below average rainfall in many cropping regions during early spring and above average daytime temperatures in southern Australia,” Ms Schneider said.
“These conditions have affected each region differently—higher winter crop production is forecast in Queensland and NSW but lower production is forecast in Victoria and South Australia, compared with 2014–15.
“In Western Australia, winter crop production is forecast to remain largely unchanged.
“Among the other winter crops, a rise in area planted to pulses is expected to result in increased production despite a decline in yield prospects over recent months.”
Ms Schneider said the start to the summer cropping season had been promising for most crops.
“Widespread rainfall across the major regions of Queensland and northern NSW has improved prospects for a range of summer crops,” Ms Schneider said.
“Above average rainfall is forecast for the next few months in these regions, leading to an expected increase in total area planted of grain, sorghum and cotton.”
The area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by 8pc in 2015–16 to 701,000 hectares.
Grain sorghum production is forecast to rise by 5pc to 2.2 million tonnes.
The area planted to cotton is forecast to rise by 52pct in 2015–16 to 300,000 hectares, largely driven by a forecast increase in area planted to dryland cotton of 100,000 hectares.
This will be the first time in three years that a significant area has been planted to dryland cotton.
Area planted to irrigated cotton is forecast to increase by 2pc to 200,000 hectares, largely reflecting an increase from last year in water storage levels in dams serving cotton growing regions.
Cotton production is forecast to increase by 11pc to 560,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 792,000 tonnes of cottonseed, which reflects the increase in planted area and an assumed 27pc fall in average yield.
ABARES reports average yield is assumed to fall because of the large increase in area planted to dryland cotton, which typically has an average yield around 70pc lower than irrigated cotton.