A new report from the Department of Agriculture suggests mainland states could be set to achieve record highs in this season’s winter crop harvest.
Generally favourable seasonal conditions have pushed production to unprecedented levels this winter season, according to the latest figures from the Department’s statistics division, ABARES.
ABARES’s latest crop report estimates the winter production has increased 49% in the 2016/17 season to 58.9 million tonnes.
“The revised winter crop estimate was the result of yields being higher than anticipated and reaching previously unseen levels in most regions,” ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said.
The latest numbers are up 12% on the December 2016 forecast.
“On the flip side, 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,” he noted.
“The timing and quantity of rainfall over the remainder of the season will be critical to the ongoing development of dryland summer crops.”
Despite this, Gooday said summer planting was now largely complete with an area 15% larger than a year ago, with around 1.4 million hectares expected to yield 4.2 million tonnes of summer crops, up 12%.
He also estimates the area planted to cotton to have more than doubled to 557,400 hectares.
This reflects favourable supplies of irrigation water, high levels of soil moisture early in the planting window and expected favourable returns from growing cotton, Gooday said.
“Area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased by 66% to 348,000 hectares and area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have increased by 248% to 209,400 hectares.
“Rice production is forecast to be around 870,000 tonnes from 250,000 tonnes in 2015/16, with the area planted estimated to be about four times higher in 2016/17 than the previous year,” he added.