Climatic and agronomic conditions

​​Australian Crop Report: February edition

During the period November 2018 to January 2019, rainfall was severely deficient to well below average in cropping regions in Queensland and extremely low to below average in northern New South Wales. Rainfall was mostly average or above in cropping areas in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and much of Western Australia (Map 1).

Map 1 Australian rainfall percentiles, 1 November to 31 January 2019

 

Note: Rainfall percentiles are displayed for cropping regions only.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Map 2 and Map 3 show the relative levels of modelled upper layer (~0.1 metres) and lower layer (~0.1 to ~1 metres) soil moisture for cropping zones across Australia for January 2019. Soil moisture estimates are relative to the historical long-term average (1911 to 2015) and presented in percentiles.

Upper layer soil moisture responds quickly to seasonal conditions and often shows a pattern that reflects rainfall and temperature events in the days leading up to the analysis date. Lower layer soil moisture is a larger, deeper store that is slower to respond to seasonal conditions and tends to reflect the accumulated effects of events that have occurred over longer periods.

Relative upper layer soil moisture in January 2019 (Map 2) in Queensland and northern New South Wales was mostly extremely low to well below average. In the remaining parts of these summer cropping regions, upper layer soil moisture was average to below average.

Map 2 Upper layer soil moisture, January 2019

Note: Relative upper layer soil moisture is displayed for grain sorghum growing regions only. The extremely high band indicates where the estimated soil moisture level for January 2019 fell into the wettest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day each year between 1910 and 2015. The extremely low band indicates where the estimated soil moisture levels for January 2019 fell into the driest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day between 1910 and 2015.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Relative lower layer soil moisture in January 2019 was extremely low to well below average in nearly all cropping regions in northern New South Wales and large segments of cropping regions in Queensland. Lower layer soil moisture in the remaining cropping regions in Queensland was mostly average but in some regions it was above average (Map 3).

Map 3 Lower layer soil moisture, January 2019

Note: Relative lower layer soil moisture is displayed for grain sorghum growing regions only. The extremely high band indicates where the estimated soil moisture level for January 2019 fell into the wettest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day each year between 1910 and 2015. The extremely low band indicates where the estimated soil moisture levels for January 2019 fell into the driest 10 per cent of estimated soil moisture levels on that day between 1910 and 2015.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (March to May), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 14 February 2019, rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales is more likely to be below average than above average but this likelihood is generally stronger in Queensland. There is no strong tendency toward either above or below average rainfall in the remaining summer cropping regions. (Map 4).

The outlook for maximum and minimum temperatures for March to May 2019 indicates hotter than average daytime and night-time temperatures are likely in cropping regions in northern New South Wales and Queensland.

Map 4 Rainfall outlook, February to April 2019

Note: Rainfall outlook is displayed for cropping regions only.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Map 5 shows the shire-scale forecast of grain sorghum yields obtained from the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). These forecasts are based on soil moisture conditions and the seasonal outlook, including the most recent trend in the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). It is important to note that final sorghum crop yield is affected more by in-crop rainfall and temperatures during crop growth than by the soil moisture at time of sowing.

At the beginning of February 2019, the forecast indicated a variable and generally poor outlook for the 2018–19 sorghum crop. Forecast yield outcomes in central Queensland are low and falling into the 10th to 30th percentile when compared to the historical median. In southern Queensland and areas of northern New South Wales forecast yield outcomes are even lower, falling into the 0 to 20th percentile when compared to the historical median.

Map 5 Forecast median grain sorghum yield ranked relative to all years, 5 February 2019

 

Note: Forecast median grain sorghum yield ranked relative to all years (%), given SOI phase was “rapidly falling” at the end of January.

Source: Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Table 4 Rainfall in major cropping districts, median and actual, November 2018 to January 2019
DistrictDistrict no.November median
mm
November 2018
mm
December median
mm
December 2018
mm
January median
mm
January 2019
mm
New South Wales
NW Plains (W)5239424718485
NW Plains (E)53515757316115
NW Slopes (N)54646678447825
NW Slopes (S)55667575567136
N Tablelands (N)56826397669754
CW Plains (S)50306535263333
CW Plains (N)51334942234128
CW Slopes (N)64506047566061
CW Slopes (S)65448745424656
C Tablelands (N)626270597259110
C Tablelands (S)6362106677274100
Riverina (W)75233824241710
Riverina (E)74345631312212
SW Slopes (N)73486946483758
SW Slopes (S)727414268835549
Victoria
N Mallee7620141644133
S Mallee7723161982133
N Wimmera7825252082152
S Wimmera7932322858201
Lower North8029312161228
Upper North81344228622610
Lower North East826788631084529
North Central88556351743712
Western Plains8947413660283
West Coast9053444458302
Queensland
Central Highlands35532976358920
Maranoa4354446131621
W Darling Downs4250347048643
E Darling Downs4158308184676
Moreton S Coast4079301081071189
South Australia
Upper South East25B28312235151
 Murray Mallee25A22271726121
Murray River2421281622132
East Central2330502429161
Yorke Peninsula22A2032161591
Lower North2125472017132
Upper North1918251814134
Western Agricultural181839131194
Western Australia
North Coast8695761
Central Coast91658345
Northern Central109167681
South Central10A161910781
South East1213421726133

Note: Median rainfall is calculated over the period 1900 to January 2019. Australian rainfall districts are shown in Map 6 of the Australian crop report.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology monthly district rainfall reports

Map 6 Rainfall districts, Australia

Note: Displayed for major cropping districts only. See table 4 for district names and observed district rainfall.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Statistical tables​​
Last reviewed:
18 Feb 2019