Crop plantation set to increase after drought-hit season last year

By Country News

Crops in Victoria and southern NSW will be less reliant on winter rainfall than other parts of the country because of favourable levels of soil moisture in these regions at the end of autumn.

That is according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ latest crop report.

While the start of the 2019-20 season has been mixed, the area of winter crops planted overall — and the area planted for wheat, barley and canola — are all set to increase on last year’s plantings.

‘‘Area planted to winter crops in Australia is forecast to rise by around nine per cent to 19.6million hectares in 2019-20, largely reflecting significant area taken out of grains and oilseed production and cut for hay in 2018-19,’’ the report summary said.

‘‘For the major winter crops, area planted to wheat is forecast to increase by eight per cent to around 11million hectares, area planted to barley is forecast to increase by 12 per cent to 4.2million hectares and area planted to canola is expected to increase by six per cent to two million hectares.’’

NSW is likely to see an increase to its overall winter crop planting compared to last season, but the 4.1million hectares is 24 per cent below the 10-year average to 2018-19.

NSW wheat plantings are set to increase by 39 per cent in 2019-20, with prospects for wheat crops currently better in southern NSW than in central and northern areas.

Victoria’s winter crop plantation is also likely to grow (up 13 per cent) compared to the drought-affected year of 2018-19.

The area planted to wheat is forecast to rise by 11 per cent in 2019-20 to about 1.6million hectares, while wheat production is forecast to increase by 64 per cent to 3.2million tonnes.

Victorian barley plantings are forecast to increase by 10 per cent to 850000 hectares and production is forecast to increase by 64 per cent to 1.8million tonnes.

The area planted for canola is forecast to increase by 33 per cent to 400000 hectares and canola production is forecast to increase by 83 per cent to 550000 tonnes in 2019-20.

Looking forward, NSW and Victoria can expect below average rainfall for the next three months, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s winter outlook.

However, both states should receive rainfall totals sufficient to sustain crops that had established successfully, through until spring.