Winter crop production in NSW is predicted to drop by almost 50 per cent after the state suffered through a dry winter and severe frosts, the Federal Government’s agriculture forecaster has warned.
But NSW is not the only affected area, with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ latest prediction for 2017-18 suggesting below average rainfall is expected to drive the whole country’s winter crop production down by almost 40 per cent.
ABARES is predicting NSW crop production will drop to 9.5million tonnes in wheat, barley and canola, which the report said was caused by ‘‘severe moisture stress’’ in parts of the state.
Across the country, wheat production is expected to fall by 38 per cent to 21.6million tonnes, barley by 40 per cent to 8million tonnes and canola by 33 per cent to 2.8million tonnes, while chickpea production is forecast to fall by 36 per cent to 1.2million tonnes and oats to drop by 45 per cent to one million tonnes.
Rural Bank manager Peter Anderson said the confidence of farmers across NSW had dropped to its lowest level since mid-2013 due to the harvest predictions.
‘‘With many farmers hoping for an average wheat crop at best, it now all hinges on the next few weeks,’’ he said.
‘‘However, if forecasts for lower-than-average rainfall and higher-than-average temperatures play out, production prospects will be diminished further.’’
ABARES chief commodity analyst Peter Gooday said mixed seasonal conditions in winter had led to varied crop condition.
‘‘The decrease for winter crop production largely reflects an expected fall in yields from the exceptionally high yields of 2016-17,’’ Mr Gooday said.
‘‘According to the latest three-month rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, spring rainfall will likely be around average in most cropping regions.’’
While the forecast is for a 39 per cent decrease in production across the country, that figure remains two per cent above the 10-year average to 2015-16.