Seasonal conditions in Victorian cropping regions during winter were mixed for crop establishment and development. In the Mallee, below average winter rainfall and low soil moisture levels reduced yield prospects. Average to above average winter rainfall in the Wimmera and western districts resulted in crops in these regions being in good condition at the end of winter with good yield prospects. Crops in these regions are expected to boost Victorian winter crop production but not offset the expected production falls in the Mallee. Dry and cool conditions have delayed crop development in some cropping regions, which reduces the risk of damage from frost events but increases the risk of heat stress during spring in the event of warmer and drier than average seasonal conditions.
According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook (September to November), issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 30 August 2018, there is a low likelihood of spring rainfall exceeding median in the major cropping regions of Victoria. If this is realised, Victorian winter crop production is likely to deteriorate, particularly in the Mallee. It is likely that maximum temperatures in spring will be above average.
The timeliness of spring rainfall will be critical in areas where soil moisture levels are low.
In 2018–19 total
winter crop production is forecast to decrease by 29% to 5.4 million tonnes, due to lower average yields. This is mostly because of unfavourable growing conditions in the Mallee. Planted area is estimated to be unchanged at 3.3 million hectares.
Wheat production in 2018–19 is forecast to decrease by 33% to 2.7 million tonnes. The average yield is forecast to fall by 33% to 1.7 tonnes per hectare. Planted area is estimated to increase marginally to 1.6 million hectares.
barley production is forecast to fall by 21% to 1.7 million tonnes. The average yield is forecast to decrease by 29% to 1.9 tonnes per hectare. This is expected to be partially offset by an estimated 10% increase in planted area, in response to favourable expected returns.
Canola production in 2018–19 is forecast to decrease by 27% to 550,000 tonnes. Planted area is estimated to decrease by 4% due to lower expected returns relative to cereals. Average yields are forecast to fall by 23% to 1.3 tonnes per hectare.
Table 10 Winter crop forecasts, Victoria, 2018–19
Note: Yields are based on area planted.