Winter rainfall in most cropping regions in Queensland was average to very much below average, which decreased crop prospects. The dry conditions and low levels of soil moisture limited opportunities for late planting in southern Queensland and reduced potential yields across the state.
Winter crop production in Queensland is forecast to fall by 38% in 2018–19 to around 900,000 tonnes, which would be the lowest winter crop production in over 10 years and is similar to production in 2006–07. The small crop forecast reflects a large fall in planted area, with below average autumn rainfall limiting the ability to plant crops. Yields are expected to be relatively unchanged from the well-below average levels achieved in 2017–18.
Wheat production in 2018–19 is forecast to decline by 23% to around 525,000 tonnes. Area planted to wheat is estimated to have fallen by 25% to around 460,000 hectares—the lowest since 1995–96—due to low levels of soil moisture.
Chickpea production is forecast to fall by 62% to 245,000 tonnes in 2018–19. This reflects a similar percentage fall in area planted to chickpeas in response to lower demand for chickpeas from India and falling prices.
Barley production in 2018–19 is forecast to fall by 14% to around 104,000 tonnes. This reflects a 15% fall in planted area and a marginal increase in the average yield.
Table 8 Winter crop forecasts, Queensland, 2018–19
Note: Yields are based on area planted.
Area planted to summer crops in Queensland is forecast to fall by 14% in 2018–19 to around 615,000 hectares. This reflects a large forecast fall in area planted to irrigated cotton. Summer crop production is forecast to fall by 12% to 1.6 million tonnes.
In its latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November 2018), issued on 30 August 2018, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast the chance of spring rainfall exceeding the median at between 50% and 35% in Queensland’s cropping region.
In 2018-19 area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to rise by 8% to 410,000 hectares. This is slightly above the five-year average to 2017–18, and reflects an expected grower response to very high prices for feed. While the Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook for spring rainfall indicates a drier-than-average September and October is likely, the planting window for sorghum is wide, extending into February in central Queensland. As a result, it is possible that the planted area could far exceed this forecast if a sufficient level of soil moisture can be achieved over spring or early summer. Sorghum production in 2018–19 is forecast to rise by 6% to around 1.1 million tonnes.
In 2018–19 area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by more than 50% to 89,000 hectares. Production is forecast to fall by 45% to 191,000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 270,000 tonnes of cottonseed.
Table 9 Summer crop estimates, Queensland, 2018–19
Note: Yields are based on area planted, except cotton which is based on area harvested.