Country News

Winter crops struggle: forecaster

By Rodney Woods

A combination of extreme dry weather and damaging frost will deliver Australia its smallest winter crop in 10 years, according to Rabobank in its recently-released Winter Crop Production Outlook.

The specialist agribusiness bank, in its report, forecasts a national harvest of just 29.3 million tonnes, down 23 per cent on last year, saying the 2018/19 winter crop season "will go down as one of the worst in eastern Australia’s history".

Were it not for the better harvest prospects in Western Australia – the only state where grain production is forecast to increase – the country would be facing its lowest winter crop in the past 20 years, the bank said.

"For vast regions of the eastern states, there will be no harvest, and where there is a harvest, yields will be anywhere between 30 per cent and 50 per cent down on average," the report said.

"Late, to no, season-opening rains, below-average to lowest-on-average rainfall and above-average temperatures during the growing season have been coupled with damaging frost to reduce harvest volumes and affect grain quality."

Reduced national production – along with continuing strong demand for feed grain in the drought-afflicted eastern states – is, however, expected to see record Australian grain prices hold well into 2019.

Read more about the report's findings in next week's Country News.