THE AUSTRALIAN Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) is still predicting this year's national winter crop will be substantially larger than last year's harvest in spite of the ongoing drought in eastern Australia and a bleak spring outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).
In its latest Australian Crop Report ABARES is predicting a national winter crop of 33.9 million tonnes, up 11 per cent on last year, but still a downward revision of 7pc from ABARES' previous estimates issued in June.
While the outlook is better than last year it is still a long way below average - 16pc below the 10-year average to 2018-19.
The heavy lifting in terms of production will be done by the southern states.
Victoria is set to enjoy an 86pc increase in production in 2019-20 to around 6.9m tonnes, reflecting both higher yields and a 14pc increase in planting after good early rain.
South Australian production is on track to rise by 25pc to 6.6m tonnes on the back of reasonable seasons on the lower Eyre Peninsula and the state's southeast.
Crop prospects in the Mallee and the Mid-North are below average.
Western Australia is tipped to see a 19pc fall to 14m tonnes.
However, while this is a big fall it is coming off a near-record season last year and the 14.4m tonne figure is around the long-term average for the state.
In Queensland there is a surprise at face value, with a 2pc increase tipped.
However, the figure comes off a historically poor season last year, with total production boosted by a good season in Central Queensland compensating for the lack of crop in the state's major winter cropping regions on the Darling Downs and the south-west.
In NSW the headline figure looks good, a 77pc rise to 5.1m tonnes, reflecting the year on year improvement in the Riverina, but there is still doubt about the crop in this region and the total production is still 51pc down on the decade average.
ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said barley was the only major crop to push above its average production for the past decade.
"Barley production is set to increase by 14pc to 9.5m tonnes, which brings it 6pc above the ten year average," Mr Gooday said.
"Wheat and canola production are forecast to increase 10 and 6pc respectively but both are expected to fall significantly below the 10-year average to 2018-19."
The all-important wheat number is set at 19.1m tonnes, well below the traditional industry benchmark of an average Aussie wheat crop of 25m tonnes.
Mr Gooday said the seasonal outlook from BOM was not good reading for those on the east coast, although slightly better in WA.
"If realised, above average September rainfall in Western Australia would give cereal crops in the state a strong chance of achieving average to above average yields," Mr Gooday said.
He said the seasonal conditions outlook for early spring in eastern
Australia is likely to constrain crop prospects in southern New South Wales, and northern cropping regions in Victoria and South Australia.
However, he said there was a good chance that most cropping regions in southern Victoria and central and southern South Australia will still achieve average yields even with the forecast dry spell.