Autumn rainfall in cropping regions in Victoria was lower than average, particularly in the Mallee. However, rainfall in May in most cropping areas replenished soil moisture levels and provided a timely boost to crops that were dry sown. With large areas dry sown with low soil moisture, timely and sufficient winter rainfall will be essential for crop development, especially in the Mallee. Sowing programs are estimated to be largely completed, with producers expected to mostly realise planting intentions.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (June to August), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 31 May 2018, winter rainfall is likely to be below average in the major cropping regions of Victoria.
In 2018–19 total winter crop area is forecast to increase by 1 per cent to 3.4 million hectares. Area planted to barley and wheat is expected to increase because of higher domestic feed prices. However, these forecast rises are expected to be largely offset by falls in area planted to canola and pulses. Winter crop production is forecast to decrease by 19 per cent to 6.1 million tonnes, driven by lower yields. Yields are assumed to be slightly below the five year average to 2017–18.
Area planted to wheat is forecast to increase by 3 per cent to 1.6 million hectares. Wheat production is forecast to decrease by 23 per cent to 3.1 million tonnes. Yields are assumed to fall from last year because of the unfavourable seasonal conditions.
Barley planted area is forecast to increase by 10 per cent to 880,000 hectares with producers responding to favourable prices compared with production alternatives. Rotational constraints and below average rainfall in early autumn provided additional incentives to substitute away from canola and pulses. Production is forecast to decrease by 14 per cent to 1.8 million tonnes.
Canola planted area is forecast to decrease by 7 per cent to 420,000 hectares, with higher feed grain prices providing an incentive to substitute away from canola. Production is forecast to decrease by 25 per cent to 560,000 tonnes because of an assumed fall in the average yield.
Table 10 Winter crop forecasts, Victoria, 2018–19
Note: Yields are based on area planted.