National overview

​​September 2018​​​

Key points

  • Total winter crop production in 2018–19 is forecast to decrease by 12% to 33.2 million tonnes.
  • Forecast winter crop production is 9% below the 20 year average to 2017–18 but 91% above the lowest production during this period.
  • Production in Queensland and New South Wales is forecast to be 38% and 46% below 2017–18 while production in Western Australia is forecast to be 12% above.

Seasonal conditions varied considerably in Australian cropping regions over winter and resulted in widely differing crop prospects at the beginning of spring.

In Western Australia, timely rainfall in late autumn and favourable winter rainfall increased soil moisture levels and yields are expected to be above average. In South Australia, timely rainfall in most southern cropping regions in August boosted yield prospects but unfavourable seasonal conditions in northern cropping regions in June and July reduced yield prospects in these regions. In Victoria, unfavourable seasonal conditions in the Mallee over winter reduced crop prospects but favourable winter conditions in the Wimmera and western districts generally boosted crop prospects.

Unfavourable seasonal conditions in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland curtailed planting late in the planting window and yields are expected to be generally well below average.

Winter crop production will be heavily dependent on seasonal conditions during the coming spring. Timely rainfall in early spring will be critical to ongoing crop development in many cropping regions in the eastern states (including South Australia) because of low levels of soil moisture. In Western Australia, favourable spring conditions could boost production beyond that being forecast.

According to the latest three-month climate outlook (September to November 2018), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 30 August 2018, rainfall exceeding median is unlikely in most cropping regions in Australia. Warmer than average temperatures in September are expected in Western Australia and some parts of Queensland. Temperatures in October are expected to be above average in most cropping regions in Australia.

Total winter crops production is forecast to decrease by 12% to 33.2 million tonnes with production declines forecast in all eastern states (including South Australia). This is a 12% downward revision from the ABARES forecast published in the June 2018 edition of Australian Crop report. Winter crop production is forecast to be 9% below the 20 year average to 2017–18 but 91% above the lowest production during this period.

While crop prospects fell over winter in many cropping regions, winter crop production in 2018–19 is expected to be significantly higher than in years with more widespread drought conditions. In 2018-19, exceptionally unfavourable seasonal conditions have been limited to Queensland, New South Wales and parts of Victoria and South Australia. In contrast, extremely unfavourable seasonal conditions affected most cropping regions in Australia during droughts in 1994–95, 2002–03, 2006–07 and 2007–08, resulting in lower national crop production than is forecast for 2018–19.

Winter crop production, Australian 1990-91 to 2018-19

 

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.

For the major winter crops, wheat production is forecast to decrease by 10% to 19.1 million tonnes, barley production is forecast to fall by 7% to around 8.3 million tonnes, and canola production is forecast to fall by 24% to around 2.8 million tonnes. Additionally, chickpea production is forecast to decrease by 69% to 351,000 tonnes and oats production to fall by 6% to 1.0 million tonnes.

Table 1 Winter crop production, Australia, 1998–99 to 2018–19
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
1998–99kt97183507232363041223334159
1999–00kt115265252222147701331237142
2000–01kt10829626613397429872434662
2001–02kt111705893115687961204239133
2002–03kt348519438294223681217359
2003–04kt107956961145073591667643313
2004–05kt107124214139152981297834671
2005–06kt119816267143375181394541226
2006–07kt379417489242793827817580
2007–08kt39994692119447061076125415
2008–09kt9,4383,8872,3264,86313,78534,378
2009–10kt7,7875,8891,6177,03512,94335,344
2010–11kt14,7847,6251,8219,3168,04441,672
2011–12kt11,9527,3522,3297,37116,60045,670
2012–13kt11,1236,8862,1566,47011,24337,934
2013–14kt9,7736,7731,5167,22116,51041,878
2014–15kt10,4455,1171,4647,43914,66239,197
2015–16kt11,6243,5682,1046,10514,20637,687
2016–17kt15,5109,5133,15910,66117,73756,678
2017–18 skt7,2287,6521,4636,94514,61937,963
2018–19 fkt3,8875,4399076,58116,32233,228
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19 –46–29–38–512–12
% change 2018–19 to lowest production 12211913614091

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.

Notes: Includes barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, field peas, lentils, linseed, lupins, oats, safflower, triticale and wheat. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16.

Table 2 Winter crop area, Australia, 2008–09 to 2018–19
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
2008–09’000 ha6,2953,4921,2083,9797,89922,901
2009–10’000 ha6,1063,4881,1733,7838,27122,844
2010–11’000 ha6,1583,4571,2173,8217,71522,392
2011–12’000 ha5,9693,4111,2053,8388,25222,693
2012–13’000 ha5,8523,4571,2223,7768,09722,421
2013–14’000 ha5,3143,2831,1053,4488,24921,419
2014–15’000 ha5,4913,3049953,6398,31321,760
2015–16’000 ha5,3752,9151,0493,1527,77120,283
2016–17’000 ha6,0623,2311,3753,9048,53123,126
2017–18 s’000 ha5,4963,3331,3093,5058,44122,101
2018–19 f’000 ha3,4483,3288023,6428,30419,547
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19–37–0–394–2–12

f ABARES estimate. s ABARES estimate.

Notes: State production includes cottonseed, grain sorghum, corn (maize), mung beans, rice, peanuts, soybeans and sunflowers. Total for Australia also includes navy beans, and small areas and volumes of summer crops in other states. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16.

Area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 20% in 2018-19 to 1.1 million hectares, driven by forecast falls in area planted to rice and cotton. Summer crop production is forecast to fall by 16% to 3.5 million tonnes.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to increase by 7% in 2018-19 to 568,000 hectares in response to favourable prices. This forecasts assumes adequate spring and early summer rainfall in cropping regions in northern New South Wales and Queensland. Grain sorghum production is forecast to increase by 8% to 1.6 million tonnes.

Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 50% to 250,000 hectares in 2018–19 because of below average rainfall in the first eight months of 2018 that resulted in a significant fall in water levels in irrigation dams serving cotton-growing regions and low soil moisture levels. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 44% to 580,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 820,000 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 in 2017.

Table 3 Summer crop area and production, Australia, 2008–09 to 2018–19
YearNew South WalesQueenslandAustralia
’000 hakt’000 hakt’000 hakt
2008–094021,4307462,3501,1563,794
2009–103811,4055141,3429032,764
2010–117132,5147901,9011,5144,446
2011–127573,0647832,3791,5585,494
2012–137113,2056862,2501,4125,506
2013–145682,3175591,4691,1393,846
2014–154352,0446962,1341,1494,263
2015–164121,6566241,8211,0543,562
2016–176622,2865661,2801,2473,667
2017–18 s6142,3247111,8141,3354,166
2018–19 f4491,8636151,5961,0743,489
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19–27–20–14–12–20–16

f ABARES forecast. s ABARES estimate.

Note: State production includes cottonseed, grain sorghum, corn (maize), mung beans, rice, peanuts, soybeans and sunflowers. Total for Australia also includes navy beans, and small areas and volumes of summer crops in other states. Due to a change in scope by the ABS of its agricultural data collections, crop production is shown for establishments with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more until 2014–15, and an EVAO of $40,000 or more from 2015–16.

Statistical tables

​​​​​​​​ ​​ ​
Last reviewed:
11 Sep 2018