Seasonal conditions during winter were hotter and drier than average in cropping regions in New South Wales. Total winter rainfall was 54% below average. In parts of the western districts there was the lowest winter rainfall on record. The well below average rainfall during the planting window resulted in much less area planted to winter crops than was initially intended. The majority of planted area, and crops with reasonable prospects, are in southern New South Wales where June rainfall facilitated winter crop planting and subsequent seasonal conditions were more favourable than further north. However, timely spring rainfall will be important for the ongoing development of these crops.
Winter crop production in New South Wales is forecast to fall by 46% in 2018–19 to around 3.9 million tonnes, the lowest level since 2006–07. Area planted to winter crops is estimated to have fallen 37% to 3.4 million hectares. The area planted to wheat, barley, canola and chickpeas are estimated to have fallen significantly, reflecting the lowest rainfall from January to August in New South Wales since 1965.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 30 August 2018, spring rainfall is likely to be below average in cropping areas in southern and inland New South Wales.
Wheat production is forecast to be 2.5 million tonnes in 2018–19, a fall of 44%. Yields are forecast to be around 40% below the ten year average to 2017–18 at 1.2 t/ha. Significantly below average rainfall in autumn and June did not allow planting intentions to be realised in central and northern cropping regions. Prospects for wheat crops in the south east cropping regions of New South Wales are currently better than in the south west, central and northern cropping regions. The area planted to wheat is estimated to have fallen by 32% to 2.1 million hectares.
Barley production is forecast to fall by 36% in 2018–19 to 762,000 tonnes. Area planted to barley is estimated to have fallen by 24% to 600,000 hectares, which reflects the below average rainfall.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 51% in 2018–19 to 300,000 tonnes. Below average rainfall combined with a number of frost events, particularly in late August are expected to result in well below average yields. The area planted to canola is estimated to have fallen 38% in 2018–19 to 400,000 hectares, reflecting a combination of the very dry start to the season, higher expected returns for cereal crops and rotational constraints.
Chickpeas production is forecast to fall by 92% in 2018–19 to 32,000 tonnes with area planted estimated to have fallen by over 91% to around 40,000 hectares. The fall reflects below average rainfall early in the winter cropping season, lower expected returns from chickpeas relative to cereal crops and rotational constraints following three consecutive years of significant increases in planted area.
Table 6 Winter crop forecasts, New South Wales, 2018−19
|Crop||Area||Yield||Production||Area change||Prod. change|
Note: Yields are based on area planted.
In 2018–19 area planted to
summer crops in New South Wales is forecast to decrease by 27% to 449,000 hectares. This forecast assumes that spring and early summer rainfall will be adequate for planting grain sorghum and dryland cotton. Soil moisture levels are currently below average and not ideal for summer crop planting. Total summer crop production is forecast to fall by 20% to around 1.9 million tonnes.
Area planted to
grain sorghum in 2018–19 is forecast to be around the five year average to 2017–18 of 156,000 hectares. Due to prolonged periods of below average rainfall, soil moisture levels in New South Wales are currently below average. Spring and early summer rainfall will be a key determinant of the final area planted. Availability of fallow land is high due to the poor winter cropping season in northern New South Wales. An increased feed grain demand and favourable prices will provide a strong incentive to plant grain sorghum if adequate rainfall is received. Assuming average yields, grain sorghum production is forecast to be around 488,000 tonnes.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by almost 50% to 161,000 hectares in 2018–19. Soil moisture levels are very low due to below average rainfall from January to August. This is expected to limit planting to irrigated areas. Cotton production in New South Wales is forecast to decline by 44 per cent in 2018–19 to 389,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 550,000 tonnes of cottonseed.
Area planted to
rice is forecast to fall by 10% to 54,000 hectares in 2018-19 in response to reduced supplies of irrigation water. Water storage levels in the Murrumbidgee valley were at 64% in early September 2018, compared to 74% at the same time last year.
Table 7 Summer crop estimates, New South Wales, 2018−19
|Crop||Area||Yield||Production||Area change||Prod. change |
Note: Yields are based on area planted, except cotton which is based on area harvested.