The beginning of autumn was drier and warmer than average in most cropping regions in South Australia following a warmer than average summer. Significant area of crops were sown dry and soil moisture reserves were well below average in late April. Rainfall in early May was timely on lower Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, the Mid and Lower North, the South East and the Southern Murray Mallee. However parts of Western and Eastern Eyre Peninsula, the Upper North and the Northern Murray Mallee did not receive sufficient rainfall in May to germinate dry sown crops. Sufficient and timely winter rainfall is required for the germination of many crops and the development of most crops in South Australia.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 31 May 2018, below average winter rainfall is likely in cropping regions in South Australia. ABARES has assumed winter rainfall will be timely, even if below average.
Total area planted to winter crop is forecast to increase 2 per cent to 3.6 million hectares in 2018–19. Winter crop production is forecast to increase 4 per cent to 7.2 million tonnes. Crop yields for the state are assumed to be slightly below the five year averages to 2017–18.
Wheat planted area is forecast to increase 4 per cent to 2.1 million hectares driven largely by increased plantings on the Eyre Peninsula in areas left fallow last year due to unfavourable seasonal conditions. Production is forecast to increase by 5 per cent to 4.3 million tonnes.
Area planted to barley is forecast to rise by 8 per cent to 860,000 hectares. High prices of barley relative to pulses and canola provided strong incentives for increased barley plantings. Production is forecast to increase by 10 per cent to marginally under 2 million tonnes.
Canola planted area is forecast to fall by 5 per cent to 238,000 hectares. An increase in area planted to canola on the Eyre Peninsula as a result of areas unplanted last year is expected to be offset by declines in the rest of the state due to substitution towards barley and unfavourable seasonal conditions in the Upper North and Northern Murray Mallee. Production is forecast to fall by 3 per cent to 310,000 tonnes.
Table 11 Winter crop forecasts, South Australia, 2018–19.
Note: Yields are based on area planted.