The Australian government has warned that dry conditions in the key crop growing regions of Queensland and northern New South Wales is reducing 2019/20 harvest production prospects.
The February 2020 Australian crop report from government agency the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) warns of a likely 66% decrease in summer crop production in these regions to 878,000 tonnes.
Cotton production is forecast to fall by 72% to around 135,000 tonnes of lint and 191,000 tonnes of seed. Grain sorghum production is expected to be down by 77% to around 292,000 tonnes. Rice production will remain low at around 54,000 tonnes due to low water allocations and high-water prices.
ABARES’ winter crop production estimate for 2019-20 will remain largely unchanged from its December 2019 forecast of around 29 million tonnes. Higher than expected barley and canola production is estimated to have largely offset lower than expected wheat production.
“Summer crop prospects were adversely affected by unfavourable seasonal conditions in December that further depleted soil moisture levels to well below average in most summer cropping regions and to record lows in some others”, said acting executive director of ABARES Peter Gooday.
Area and production falls from Dec forecast
“With the planting of summer crops in Queensland and northern New South Wales now largely complete, we expect planted area and production to be lower than our forecasts of December 2019.
“This largely reflects seasonal conditions in December that were more unfavourable than expected. Rainfall in late January and in February was largely too late to plant more grain sorghum in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
“The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month rainfall outlook indicates that for most summer cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales rainfall is more likely to be below average than above average from March to May."