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Australian crop report 2017  Read Chinese Translation

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Summary
Table of contents

In this edition, ABARES will release its latest forecast of summer crop production in 2016-17 and its latest estimate of winter crop production in 2016-17. 

Key issues

  • Planting of 2016-17 summer crops is largely completed and planted area is estimated to have increased from last year because of above average spring rainfall. However, yields of dryland summer crops are expected to be constrained by hot and dry seasonal conditions during summer.
  • The Bureau of Meteorology's latest three-month rainfall outlook suggests above average rainfall is unlikely across the major summer cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
  • Harvesting of 2016-17 winter crops is now largely complete and production is estimated to have exceeded the forecast of record production presented in the December 2016 edition of Australian crop report.

Drier and warmer than average seasonal conditions in the cropping regions of Queensland and northern New South Wales over the past three months have reduced prospects for summer crop production in 2016–17. The recent unfavourable seasonal conditions have lowered soil moisture levels, curtailed the planting of summer crops in the latter part of the planting window and adversely affected yield prospects for dryland crops. The timing and quantity of rainfall over the remainder of the season will be critical to the ongoing development of dryland summer crops. However, favourable supplies of irrigation water mean the recent unfavourable seasonal conditions have not adversely affected prospects for irrigated cotton and rice.

 
Rainfall is likely to be below average and temperatures above average for the remainder of the summer crop season, according to the Bureau of Meteorology climate outlook for February to April 2017 (issued 25 January 2017).

 
Planting of summer crops is now largely complete and total area planted to summer crops is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent in 2016–17 to around 1.4 million hectares. The increase in planted area was driven by plentiful supplies of irrigation water and favourable planting conditions early in the planting window. Total summer crop production is forecast to rise by 12 per cent to 4.2 million tonnes.

 
Area planted to cotton is estimated to have more than doubled in 2016–17 to 557,400 hectares, reflecting favourable supplies of irrigation water, high levels of soil moisture early in the planting window and expected favourable returns from growing cotton relative to production alternatives. Area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased by 66 per cent to 348,000 hectares and area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have increased by 248 per cent to 209,400 hectares. The increase in the share of area planted to dryland cotton is forecast to result in a 21 per cent fall in the average yield, and cotton production is forecast to rise by 64 per cent to 1.0 million tonnes of lint and around 1.5 million tonnes of cottonseed.

 
Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to fall by 35 per cent in 2016–17 to 441,000 hectares, largely because of higher expected returns from growing cotton. Additionally, late season planting is expected to be minimal because of unfavourable seasonal conditions over the past three months. These conditions are also expected to constrain the average yield, with production forecast to fall by 41 per cent to 1.2 million tonnes.

Area planted to rice is estimated to be almost four times higher in 2016–17 than the previous year because of an increase in the supply of irrigation water available to rice growers. Rice production is forecast to increase to 870,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes in 2015–16.