FAVOURABLE seasonal conditions in most cropping regions in Australia during winter have seen the forecast for 2015-16 winter crop production rise by 8 per cent to 41.4 million tonnes.
The forecast has been buoyed by above-average rainfall in NSW and timely rainfall in Western Australia and South Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest Australian crop report.
Winter crop production is also expected to rise in Queensland and Victoria but remain largely unchanged in South Australia, compared with 2014-15.
In a statement, ABARES executive director Karen Schneider said forecast winter crop production in 2015–16 has been revised up from the ABARES June 2015 forecast.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month rainfall outlook says wetter than average spring conditions are likely in most cropping regions in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA. Close to average spring rainfall is likely in most cropping regions in Queensland.
For the major winter crops, wheat production is forecast to increase by 7 per cent in 2015–16 to 25.3 million tonnes and barley production is forecast to rise by 8pc to 8.6 million tonnes.
Canola production is forecast to fall by 9pc to around 3.1 million tonnes, with an estimated 13pc fall in planted area.
Ms Schneider said strong demand from India for chickpeas had led to an expected increase in production.
“Australia’s chickpea production is forecast to increase by 78pc to 990,000 tonnes – great news for chickpea growers,” Ms Schneider said.
Among other crops, oats production is forecast to increase by 30pc to 1.4 million tonnes.
Area planted to summer crops in 2015–16 is forecast to increase by 1 per cent to around 1.1 million hectares, reflecting a forecast increase in area planted to cotton.
Total summer crop production is forecast to fall by 2 per cent to 3.9 million tonnes, reflecting an assumed fall in average yields from 2014–15.
August rainfall was average to above average in most major summer cropping regions in northern NSW and southern Queensland, according to the ABARES report.
Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to be largely unchanged in 2015–16 at 651,000 hectares.
This reflects an outlook for average spring rainfall in growing regions. Assuming a return to average yields, production is forecast to fall by 4pc to 2 million tonnes.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to increase by 6pc in 2015–16 to 214,000 hectares in response to expected favourable returns from growing cotton, compared with alternative crops.
Australian cotton production is forecast to rise by 4pc to 470,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 665,000 tonnes of cottonseed.
The average storage level of public irrigation dams serving cotton growing regions was around 37pc of capacity on August 21, 2015, similar to the level at the same time in 2014.
Area planted to rice is forecast to fall by 7pc in 2015–16 to 66,000 hectares, reflecting an expected fall in supply of water available for irrigating rice.
Production is forecast to decline by 10pc to around 655,000 tonnes, largely reflecting the forecast fall in planted area.