National overview

​​The start to the 2018–19 winter crop season was mixed. Autumn rainfall was generally well below average but timely rainfall in May in most cropping regions in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales facilitated sowing of winter crops in these regions. However, seasonal conditions in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales were drier than average throughout autumn, which significantly constrained planting intentions. With lower layer soil moisture at the end of autumn below to very much below average across most cropping regions in Australia, sufficient and timely winter rainfall will be critically important for crop development.

Winter rainfall is likely to be around average in cropping regions in Western Australia but below average in most other cropping regions, according to the latest three-month rainfall outlook for June to August 2018 issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 31 May 2018.

Total area planted to winter crops is forecast to decrease by 4 per cent to 21.1 million hectares as a result of forecast declines in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Favourable prices of cereal feed grains relative to prices of oilseeds and pulses and drier than average seasonal conditions are expected to result in a significant increase in area planted to barley and falls in area planted to canola, chickpeas and lentils.

For the major winter crops, area planted to wheat is forecast to fall by around 2 per cent to 12 million hectares, area planted to barley is forecast to increase by 10 per cent to 4.3 million hectares and canola is expected to fall 10 per cent to 2.5 million hectares. Among other crops, area planted to chickpeas is expected to fall significantly by 53 per cent to 528,000 hectares and area planted to oats is expected to fall 7 per cent to 693,000 hectares.

Winter crop production forecast to fall slightly in 2018–19 to 37.7 million tonnes, assuming winter rainfall will be timely, particularly in areas where below average winter rainfall is likely. For the major winter crops, wheat production is expected to increase by 3 per cent to 21.9 million tonnes, barley production is forecast to increase by 3 per cent to 9.2 million tonnes, and canola production is forecast to fall by 16 per cent to 3.1 million tonnes. Barley production is forecast to increase more modestly than might be expected given the forecast increase in planted area because barley yields in Western Australia are forecast to fall from above average back to average. Amongst other crops, chickpeas production is forecast to decline 40 per cent to 616,000 tonnes and oats production is forecast to remain largely unchanged at 1.1 million tonnes.

Table 1 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 ha5,3143,2831,1053,4488,24921,420
2014–15’000 ha5,4913,3049953,6398,31321,760
2015–16’000 ha5,3752,9151,0493,1527,77120,283
2016–17’000 ha6,0623,2311,3753,9048,53123,123
2017–18 s’000 ha5,4963,3331,3093,5058,44122,101
2018–19 f’000 ha4,7983,3781,0993,5888,26221,148
% change 2017–18 to 2018–19 –131–162–2–4

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 production, Australia, 2008–09 to 2018–19
YearUnitNew South WalesVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaAustralia
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
2016–17kt15,5109,5133,15910,66117,73756,674
2017–18 skt7,1817,6341,3906,94514,61937,824
2018–19 fkt8,2776,1461,6097,22614,32637,676
% change 2017–18 to 2018–1915–19164–2–0

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.

Total summer crop production is estimated to have increased by 13 per cent in 2017–18, driven by increased sorghum and cotton production.

Production of grain sorghum is estimated to have risen by 45 per cent in 2017–18 to 1.4 million tonnes, reflecting increases in planted area. Planted area rose by 44 per cent to 531,000 hectares.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have declined by 10 per cent in 2017–18 to 500,000 hectares. Despite the fall in planted area, production is estimated to have risen by 17 per cent to around 1 million tonnes of lint and 1.5 million tonnes of seed.

Rice production in 2017–18 is estimated to have been 631,000 tonnes, a reduction of 22 per cent from the previous year. This fall was the result of a reduction in planted area.

Table 3 Summer crop area and production, Australia, 2007–08 to 2017–18
YearNew South WalesQueenslandAustralia
’000 hakt’000 hakt’000 hakt
2007–08398 1,668 791 2,877 1,199 4,567
2008–09402 1,430 746 2,350 1,156 3,794
2009–10381 1,405 514 1,342 903 2,764
2010–11713 2,514 790 1,901 1,514 4,446
2011–12757 3,064 783 2,379 1,558 5,494
2012–13711 3,205 686 2,250 1,412 5,506
2013–14568 2,317 559 1,469 1,139 3,847
2014–15435 2,044 696 2,134 1,149 4,262
2015–16412 1,656 624 1,821 1,054 3,563
2016–17674 2,303 578 1,300 1,247 3,667
2017–18 s616 2,324 713 1,814 1,338 4,158
% change 2016–17 to 2017–18–9 1 24 40 7 13

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

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Last reviewed:
13 Jun 2018