Area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 20% in 2018–19 to 1.1 million hectares, driven by forecast falls in area planted to rice and cotton, according to a latest report published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). Summer crop production is forecast to fall by 16% to 3.5 million tonnes.
Area-averaged rainfall in Australian cropping regions during winter 2018 was the fifteenth lowest on record, implying this winter has been in the driest 13% of years. August rainfall was extremely low to well below average in southern cropping regions in New South Wales.
Area planted to grain sorghum is forecast to increase by 7% in 2018–19 to 568,000 hectares in response to favourable prices. This forecasts assumes adequate spring and early summer rainfall in cropping regions in northern New South Wales and Queensland. Grain sorghum production is forecast to increase by 8% to 1.6 million tonnes.
Area planted to cotton is forecast to fall by 50% to 250,000 hectares in 2018–19 because of below average rainfall in the first eight months of 2018 that resulted in a significant fall in water levels in irrigation dams serving cotton-growing regions and low soil moisture levels. Cotton production is forecast to fall by 44% to 580,000 tonnes of cotton lint and 820,000 tonnes of cottonseed.
Area planted to rice is forecast to fall by 10% to 54,000 hectares in 2018–19 in response to reduced supplies of irrigation water. Water storage levels in the Murrumbidgee valley were at 64% in early September 2018, compared to 74% at the same time in 2017.
Summer crop production and area, Australia, 2016–17 to 2018–19