ABARES tips wheat at 30.3Mt, barley 10.9Mt, sorghum 2.7Mt

AUSTRALIA is forecast to produce 30.3 million tonnes (Mt) of wheat in 2022-23, with barley forecast at 10.9Mt and canola at 5.6Mt, according to figures released today by ABARES in its Australian Crop Report June 2022 edition.

Both wheat and barley production from the crop now being planted are forecast to  be the fourth-largest on record, while canola production at 5.6Mt is the second largest on record, behind only last year’s crop.

Winter-crop production including pulses, oats and other crops is forecast to reach 50.9Mt, the fourth highest on record.

Wheat haWheat (t)Barley haBarley (t)Canola haCanola (t)
Qld885,0001,726,000133,000319,000NQNQ
NSW3,650,0009,855,000820,0002,296,000920,0001,610,000
Vic1,550,0003,813,000790,0002,094,000550,000990,000
SA2,150,0004,623,000820,0001,845,000255,000395,000
WA4,950,00010,250,0001,550,0004,300,0001,700,0002,600,000
National13,185,00030,267,0004,113,00010,854,0003,425,0005,595,000

Table 1: Forecast estimates by state for mainland Australia’s 2022-23 wheat, barley and canola hectares and tonnes. Source: ABARES

Conditions mostly favourable

Favourable planting conditions are expected to drive area planted to winter crops in 2022-23 to reach 23.4M hectares nationally, a slight fall from last year’s record levels.

This fall is mostly driven by forecasts of lower areas in New South Wales and Queensland, which is expected to offset slight increases elsewhere.

High prices of wheat and canola relative to other crops during planting are expected to drive a 1-per-cent increase from last year in the national area planted to wheat, and a 12pc increase in area planted to canola.

These increases are forecast to come largely at the expense of plantings to barley in most states, and chickpeas in Queensland and NSW.

Yield prospects are forecast to be well above 10-year averages in NSW and Queensland, and more modest in other states.

High levels of subsoil moisture at the beginning of June and the likelihood of above-average winter rainfall in most states are expected to support crop prospects.

High costs of fertilisers and chemicals have caused growers to economise on their use planting and establishing crops, with the majority of growers securing sufficient volumes earlier in the year.

While the cost and availability of chemicals are expected to be less of a constraint to production prospects, there is some risk that a tighter-than-expected rationing of fertilisers on farms in spring could reduce yield potentials.

However, this downside risk is expected to be limited by the scale and specialist operations of large farms producing the majority of production in Australia, and their tendencies to hold adequate fertiliser stocks to maximise their returns to deploying farm machineries.

The opening of the winter cropping season has been very favourable in most cropping regions.

This comes as total rainfall between February and April was above average in most cropping regions in eastern states and Western Australia, helping to support high soil-moisture profiles for the planting of winter crops.

Conditions in South Australia in early autumn have been less favourable than elsewhere, which constrained planting progress in most parts of the state in early May.

Cool conditions and sufficient rainfall during May have helped most growers in Victoria, SA and WA to realise their strong planting intentions.

However, heavy May rainfall in Queensland and large parts of NSW has caused waterlogging issues in some regions experiencing ongoing wet conditions.

This has limited access to fields for some growers in early winter and is likely to prevent them from planting a full program if conditions in June remain wet.

According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook to August as issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on May 26, cropping regions in the eastern states and SA have a very high chance of exceeding median winter rainfall.

WA cropping regions are more likely to receive below-average winter rainfall.

Record summer crop seen

ABARES has forecast production from the summer crop now being harvested at a record 5.5Mt, including a sorghum crop of 2.7Mt and a new record for cotton lint production of 1.3Mt, or 5.7M 227-kilogram bales.

This comes as well above-average rainfall during autumn contributed to finishing an excellent summer-cropping season in Queensland and northern NSW, and despite well above-average rainfall between February and March.

This led to flooding, weather damage, harvest delays, and the inundation and loss of some summer crops.

The extent of damage was significant for some growers but was localised and did not have a major impact on national volumes.

Ongoing wet conditions in May delayed crop harvests and contributed to some quality downgrades, especially for sorghum.

Record cotton production is expected on the back of high yields and record planted area, and is roughly double last season’s area and production.

Rice is Australia’s other volume summer crop, and production in NSW is tipped at 625,000t from 61,000ha, with area seen as up 35pc on last season, and production up 39pc.

Sorghum haSorghum (t)Cotton haLint (t)Cottonseed (t)
Qld452,0001,776,000214,000422,000506,000
NSW170,000952,000406,000835,0001,000,000

Table 2: Forecast estimates for sorghum and cotton area and production for Australia’s two main summer-cropping states for crops grown over the 2021-22 summer. Source: ABARES

Source: ABARES

ABARES estimates Australia’s 2021-22 wheat crop at 36.35Mt, barley at 13.72Mt and canola at 6.35Mt.

2021-22 haProduction (t)Export (t)2022-23 haProduction (t)Export (t)
Wheat13,039,00036,347,00025,297,00012,325,00027,993,00021,000,000
Barley4,357,00013,724,0008,707,0004,293,00011,034,0007,094,000
Canola3,045,0006,352,0005,337,0003,140,0004,933,0003,979,000

Table 1: ABARES’ 2021-22 actual area, production and export figures, and preliminary forecasts for 2022-23 issued in early March.

As published last week, based on current plantings and slightly above-average yield expectations, Rabobank estimates Australia will be on track to deliver total wheat production of 32.5Mt, while ACF is sitting on 29.1Mt.

There is little to split the Rabobank and ACF new-crop estimates for barley of 11Mt and 10.6Mt respectively; on canola, Rabobank is on 5.8Mt, well above ACF’s 5Mt.

ABARES’ estimates released today for all three crops sit between the Rabobank and ACF figures.

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