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Dry goes against the grain

The hot and dry start to the year has resulted in a less than favourable summer cropping season, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

February 19, 2013 4:09am

A dry summer has impacted on crops.


The hot and dry start to the year has resulted in a less than favourable summer cropping season, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

In the group’s Australian Crop Report, executive director Paul Morris said heavy rainfall last month was expected to benefit late-sown summer crops and increase the area planted to some summer crops with a later planting window, but had come too late to benefit early-sown crops.

‘‘The drier and warmer conditions in late spring and early summer have resulted in many producers not fully realising their planting intentions for grain sorghum, and reduced yield prospects,’’ Mr Morris said.

Compared with record production last year, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences forecast total summer crop production to be around 13 per cent lower in 2012-13, at 4.8million tonnes. This is around 14 per cent higher than the average of 4.2million tonnes during the five years to 2011-12.

Grain sorghum production is forecast to decrease by 23 per cent to 1.7million tonnes in 2012-13 and production of cotton lint and seed is forecast to fall by 21 per cent each to 945000 tonnes and 1.3million tonnes, respectively. In contrast, rice production is forecast to rise by 15 per cent to around 1.1million tonnes.

‘‘The recent flooding in some summer cropping regions has so far only caused minor damage to summer crops,’’ Mr Morris said.

Generally dry conditions during the growing season in the winter cropping zone are estimated to have resulted in winter crop production falling by 22 per cent in 2012-13 to 35.8million tonnes, but represent a marginal upward revision from the forecast of 35.1million tonnes released by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences in December.

For the major winter crops in 2012-13, wheat production is estimated to have reached around 22million tonnes, down from last year’s record of 29.9million tonnes; barley production is estimated to have reached 7.1million tonnes; and canola production is estimated to have been 3.1million tonnes.

Mr Morris said the winter crop harvest in Queensland and NSW was completed before the recent flooding and was largely complete in south-eastern Australia before the recent bushfires started.

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