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Australian crop report(Feb. 2016)

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Summary
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Australia’s total area planted to summer crops is forecast to increase by 5 per cent in 2015–16 to around 1.2 million hectares, according to the Crop Report from Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). An increase in area planted to cotton and mung beans is estimated to more than offset a fall in area planted to grain sorghum and rice. Total summer crop production is forecast to fall by 6 per cent to 3.9 million tonnes, largely as a result of a forecast fall in rice production.

Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to fall by 2 per cent in 2015–16 to 712 000 hectares largely because of a forecast decline in planted area in Queensland. Planted area in Queensland is expected to fall because of unfavourable planting conditions in central Queensland during December and much of January. However, in New South Wales planting conditions were favourable during the planting window so area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to have increased from last year to 712 000 hectares. This would be the second highest since 2008–09. Grain sorghum production is forecast to rise by 3 per cent to 2.2 million tonnes, driven by an assumed increase in average yield.


Area planted to cotton is estimated to have increased by 37 per cent in 2015–16 to 270 000 hectares. This significant rise mainly reflects above average rainfall in November 2015, which improved water storage levels in dams serving Australia’s cotton growing regions. In response to the increased supply of irrigation water, area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased by around 7 per cent to 210 000 hectares. Additionally, the November rainfall created favourable planting conditions for dryland crops and area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have increased from a negligible level last year to 60 000 hectares. However, average yield is assumed to fall by 23 per cent as a result of the estimated increase in area planted to dryland cotton, which typically yields around 70 per cent less than irrigated cotton. Australian cotton production is forecast to increase by 6 per cent in 2015–16 to 546 000 tonnes of cotton lint and around 772 000 tonnes of cottonseed.

Area planted to rice is estimated to have fallen by 56 per cent in 2015–16 to around 31 000 hectares, reflecting a significant reduction in supply of irrigation water available to rice growers in New South Wales. Rice production is forecast to fall by 58 per cent to 305 000 tonnes, assuming average yields.