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Australia's winter crop forecast to jump 20 per cent says national forecaster ABARES

By Emma Field and Jo Prendergast, Wednesday June 12, 2019 - 06:08 EST
ABC image
Chris Reichstein in a wheat crop at his Mount Burdett farm, near Esperance, was happy with the rain. - ABC

Australia's winter crop will jump 20 per cent after a drought-ravaged season last year, according to the national forecaster.



In its first crop report of the year, ABARES today tipped this year's winter crop to reach 36.4 million tonnes.

Last year's eastern states season was disastrous with the total crop at its lowest in more than a decade, while Western Australia harvested its second largest crop.

ABARES predicts the national crop this year to bounce back after above-average May rainfall in South Australia, Victoria, and southern New South Wales.

But this year's winter crop, made up of wheat, barley, canola, and pulses, is still expected to be 10 per cent lower than the 10-year average.

Good autumn rains lift forecast

Australia's wheat crop will jump 23 per cent on last year to 21.2 million tonnes, according to the national commodity forecaster.

Victoria and South Australia are expected to produce an above-average wheat crop.



But ABARES said low autumn rain in the biggest wheat growing states of New South Wales and Western Australia meant farmers were tipped to grow below-average crops.

National barley production is estimated to rise by 11 per cent to 9.2 million tonnes.

ABARES senior economist Peter Collins said the increase in crop production came off a very poor season in eastern Australia last year.

"A lot of last year's crop was damaged and cut for hay in areas such as Victoria, South Australia, and southern New Southern Wales, so you need to put that increase into perspective," he said.

Mr Collins said the picture for New South Wales was mixed.

"The Riverina and other southern cropping regions have had a really good opening, and soil moisture levels are quite good … so crop prospects in that region are OK," he said.

"But there are still significant parts of the eastern states that will struggle to come up to an average crop … the further north you go [in NSW] prospects are less than robust."

ABARES said the Bureau of Meteorology was forecasting that Western Australia was expected only to receive average winter rainfall.

'It was beautiful': Rain arrives in WA



Western Australia this week received rain after one of the driest spells on record across most of the vast grain-growing regions.

In the Mid West, Greenough crop and livestock farmer Ben Royce tipped 80mm from his rain gauge.

He said it was the start to the season the region was waiting for.

"It was beautiful, I was outside underneath the tin roof, it was very relaxing," he said.

"It's really nice, the smell.

"Just to go into clean dirt that's wet and not dry and dusty."

Mr Royce said crops would start emerging over the next few days, and he was hoping to stop hand-feeding sheep this week.

The Royces cut some of their program back due to the late start.

"We still have oats, wheat, barley and lupins in the silos, which are all supposed to be in the ground by now."



Chris Reichstein farms at Mount Burdett, 55km north-east of Esperance in the state's south east.

He said yesterday's 10mm of rain was on top of 30mm he received last month.

"Our break was probably a little while ago, but this has just cemented it," he said.

"Moisture is good, crops are up and away."

But he said some farmers in the regional missed out — there was only 5mm for the week at Cascade, west of Esperance, and north at Grass Patch there was only 12mm.

"A large percentage of the area north of here into the Mallee have been a lot drier; [they] really needed this rain," Mr Reichstein said.

"It's been hard for the farmers with livestock. We haven't had decent rain to grow pasture, so there's been a lot of hay brought in and a lot of hand-feeding of stock."

Other WA cropping areas also missed out.

Only 10mm fell at Ravensthorpe for the week, with 15mm and 18mm respectively for drought-declared Newdegate and Lake Grace regions.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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