Dry conditions, frost and wind are being blamed for a shortfall in South Australia’s 2018/19 grain harvest forecast.
The State Government has forecast a grain harvest of 6.9 million tonnes this season, down 13% from the long-term average of 7.9 million tonnes.
The state’s July crop update reports dry conditions from late autumn continued into May and June, but timely rains in May were sufficient for seeding to progress in most districts.
Primary industries and regional development minister Tim Whetstone said growers managed to increase crop area from 3.5 million hectares to 3.8 million hectares, despite the dry conditions. This figure is still slightly below the average, however.
“The seasonal conditions have provided significant challenges for our farmers but hats off to them, they have managed to sow a variety of crops across the state,” Whetstone said.
“In most areas, soil moisture reserves are low to moderate, with only Kangaroo Island and the lower South East having good reserves. Farmers in most districts have retained a similar area of wheat, except for parts of the Eyre Peninsula, where many farmers have turned to barley.”
Whetstone noted the harvest result could swing away from the forecast, depending on the weather throughout the next few crucial months of the season.
“While the report provides the first estimate of the season, it is important to note that South Australia’s grain crop will be highly dependent on the conditions in the coming months,” he said.
“The grains industry continues to be a significant contributor to South Australia’s economy adding almost $5.3 billion to the state’s gross food revenue in 2016/17 and supporting thousands of jobs.”