AUSTRALIA - Drier than average seasonal conditions during winter and spring have weakened prospects for total Australian winter crop production, despite favourable conditions at the start of the 2014–15 winter crop season.
ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said winter crop production in 2014–15 is forecast to fall in all the major producing states, compared with production in 2013–14.
"Among the hardest hit, winter crop production in Victoria is forecast to fall by 28 per cent and in Queensland by 15 per cent on 2013–14 levels," Ms Schneider said.
"Large falls are also forecast in Western Australia (20 per cent) and South Australia (14 per cent), however, the expected falls in these states are from well above average levels of production in 2013–14.
"Winter crop production in NSW is forecast to fall by 1 per cent on production levels in 2013–14.
"Despite a forecast decline of 16 per cent in 2014–15 (to 37 million tonnes), total winter crop production is expected to be about 4 per cent higher than the average over the 10 years to 2012–13," Ms Schneider said.
Ms Schneider said less than favourable seasonal conditions during winter and spring in Queensland and northern New South Wales reduced soil moisture and irrigation water availability, resulting in unfavourable planting conditions at the start of the summer crop planting window.
"Planted area for summer crops is forecast to decline, reflecting below average spring rainfall and the outlook for below average rainfall for the remainder of the 2014–15 summer crop planting window,” Ms Schneider said.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s seasonal outlook for December 2014 to February 2015 points to a below average chance of exceeding median rainfall across major summer cropping regions.
“Because soil moisture levels are low in summer cropping regions, sufficient and timely in-crop rainfall will be critical for the development of grain sorghum crops in 2014–15,” Ms Schneider said.
Total summer crop production is forecast to fall by 13 per cent in 2014–15 to around 3.2 million tonnes.