AUSTRALIAN winter crop production will rebound 20 per cent from last year's drought ravaged season, but will remain 10pc below the 10 year average according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).
South-eastern Australia is likely to do the heavy lifting in terms of grain production this year, with favourable rainfall in South Australia, Victoria and southern NSW, while Western Australian croppers have had a reprieve with a good rain in the past week across much of that state's cropping belt.
However, northern NSW and Queensland are on track for a third consecutive poor season with disappointing autumn rain.
ABARES is predicting a total winter crop of 36.4 million tonnes, with wheat making up 21.2m tonnes.
This compares to long term averages of total winter crop of around 40m tonnes and wheat around 24-25m tonnes.
However, it is significantly up on last year, where many crops were either abandoned or cut for hay.
ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said the season had turned around markedly in the south in the past six weeks, after many centres recorded their driest start to the year on record to the end of April.
"Above average May rainfall in South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales made for favourable planting and growing conditions in these regions," Mr Gooday said.
He said crops in this area now have a favourable level of soil moisture and will be less reliant on winter rainfall.
His comments were made before further good rain swept through SA and Victoria on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, further improving the position.
However, the soil moisture reserves are likely to be needed, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) declaring this week an Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) positive event was likely this year.
An IOD positive event is heavily correlated with drier than average conditions through parts of SA, inland Victoria and southern NSW, even more so than an El Nio in some cases.
BOM data shows winter rainfall is likely to be average in WA and below average in the majority of other cropping regions.
In parts of WA and the northern cropping zone, Mr Gooday said croppers would be up against it to produce average yields.
"In order for crops in these regions to develop, they'll need sufficient and timely winter rainfall," he said.