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Winter Crop Production Near Record Levels

15 September 2011

AUSTRALIA - Good soil moisture levels at the start of winter through key cropping regions have underpinned favourable growing conditions across the eastern states, with recent falls providing drier regions with a much needed boost according to MLA.

According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES), total winter crop production is expected to be around 41 million tonnes in 2011-12, revised upwards from ABARES' June forecast of 40.8 million tonnes.

The upward revision from June was on the back of improved conditions and outlook for WA (13,192 tonnes), SA (8,171 tonnes) and Victoria (6,438 tonnes), which will offset forecast production declines in Queensland (1,876 tonnes) and NSW (11,274 tonnes).

Crop growing conditions in WA have improved dramatically since last year, and production is expected to rise 78 per cent year-on-year, with 25-100mm of rain in each month of winter driving a predicted improvement in yields.

However, compared to 2010-11 total production for 2011-12 is forecast to be back 2 per cent - albeit still the fourth largest crop on record. Indeed, the forecast declines in NSW and Queensland in 2011-12 are compared to the very large harvest in 2010-11, which was also significantly disrupted by heavy rain at harvest time.

Of the major crops, wheat production is estimated to be 26.2 million tonnes, slightly down on 2010-11.

Although total crop yields for 2010-11 were the second largest since 1998-99, grain prices still surged throughout the year. Average fiscal year prices for Darling Downs wheat ($244/tonne) and Riverina wheat ($225/tonne) both jumped 12 per cent year-on-year, despite the near record production levels.

The higher grain input costs continue to challenge feedlot operators, who are already dealing with a sluggish Japanese market and relatively high feeder cattle prices.

TheCropSite News Desk



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