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Bumper crop follows drought-breaking rains

NSW is on track for its second-biggest winter crop in a decade as production bounces back in many drought-ravaged areas of Australia.

National winter crop production is forecast to increase 64 per cent this financial year, according to the latest federal agriculture forecast.

That’s 20 per cent above the 10-year average after decent rain in many parts of the country.

NSW is tipped to lead the recovery, with production expected to soar 300 per cent on last year to its highest level since 2016/17.

ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said crop prospects are strongest in NSW where winter rain and a strong start to the season have driven higher production.

“Increased production in New South Wales has accounted for 60 per cent of the forecast increase in production nationally,” he said.

Crop prospects are average to above average in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and southern Queensland, despite warmer than average temperatures and below average rainfall in June and July.

Soil moisture and timely rainfall sustained established crops during those months.

Farmers received a welcome boost in August, with rain falling at the right time to bolster yield prospects in many regions.

Central and northern Queensland were not as lucky with not enough August rain to achieve average crop yields.

Mr Hatfield-Dodds said area planted to winter crops was estimated to have increased 23 per cent to 22.6 million hectares from last year’s drought-affected season.

“In New South Wales, the area planted is estimated to be six million hectares – almost double that from 2019-20.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month climate outlook indicates spring rainfall is likely to be above average in most cropping regions.

In WA the forecast is mixed, with below average spring rainfall most likely for the Geraldton zone and part of the Kwinana zone.

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