The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) says growing conditions over the winter were generally favorable in the major winter cropping regions and crops are reported to be in good condition. Rainfall in late August and early September replenished soil moisture profiles and provided a good boost to crops in most regions.
Total winter crop production is forecast to be around 41 million metric tons (MMT) 2011–12. This would be the fourth largest winter crop on record and is an upward revision from the ABARES June forecast of 40.8 MMT. "Favorable conditions and likely higher production in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria is expected to more than offset lower forecast production in New South Wales and Queensland," states the group.
Of the major winter crops, wheat production is forecast to be 26.2 MMT in 2011–12, slightly lower than last year and basically unchanged from its June estimate. Barley production is forecast to fall by 11% to 8.3 MMT while canola production is forecast to increase by 7% to 2.3 MMT.
"The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s latest seasonal rainfall outlook (25 August 2011) favors a wetter-than-normal spring across the cropping regions in Western Australia, Queensland and northern New South Wales. For the latter two regions, this will be important for the upcoming planting of summer crops. For southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, there is a less than even chance of exceeding median rainfall over spring," says ABARES.
Meanwhile, ABARES says total summer crop area is forecast to be largely unchanged in 2011–12 at 1.5 million hectares. "Increased availability of irrigation water is forecast to result in higher cotton and rice plantings. Grain sorghum plantings are forecast to decline by 3% to 617 000 hectares," it states.
Australian cotton production is forecast to increase by 23% in 2011–12 to a record 1.1 MMT. "The forecast increase is in response to favorable cotton prices and prospects of better return to relative to alternative crops, abundant supplies of irrigation water and reasonably favorable soil moisture profiles in most of the summer cropping regions of New South Wales and Queensland," says ABARES.