NSW croppers expected to reap 16.1 million tonnes of grain

Second biggest crop on the cards

Cropping
Across NSW, croppers are expected to bring in a massive grain haul of comparable volume to the highs of last year.

Across NSW, croppers are expected to bring in a massive grain haul of comparable volume to the highs of last year.

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NSW winter crop production is forecast to be the second-biggest on record.

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Last week's September Australian Crop Report unsurprisingly predicted production increases for the winter crop, following what can only be described as a "dream run" for most growers in the NSW grain belts.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecast that national wheat production would be 32.6 million tonnes, barley would be 12.5 million tonnes and canola would amount to five million tonnes.

Overall, total Australian winter grain production was pegged at 54.8 million tonnes.

This would make the crop the third-biggest on record after last year and the 2016-17 season.

Queensland was predicted to have a phenomenal cropping season and produce 63 per cent more grain than last year's winter crop at 2.7 million tonnes.

Of this, ABARES expects about 1.8 million tonnes will be wheat.

The northern NSW cropping belt received less than optimal rainfall throughout winter.

Southern regions received average to above-average rainfall during the same period.

As temperatures reached highs of up to 30°C in some areas last week, harvest start dates were bought forward and headers are now likely to roll earlier - in about 10-15 days.

Right across NSW, winter crop production was forecast to be the second-biggest on record at 16.1 million tonnes, which would be three million tonnes behind the record high that was set last year.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has predicted spring rainfall to be above average.

So, the state is in the box seat to capture the full potential of the season.

The BoM forecast of a wet spring delivers mixed reviews for NSW croppers.

On one hand, it will be welcomed to finish-off crops and enable full potential to be reached across the board.

But, as it stands, the Hume Weir is full and both Burrinjuck and Blowering Dam are at more than 95pc capacity.

Any major rain events in the short-term will have farmers who border the downstream river systems on the edge of their seats.

Further south in Victoria, that state is enduring a tougher growing season.

This is particularly in the Mallee and Northern Wimmera regions, which have experienced well below average growing season rainfall to date.

ABARES forecast production would be down 20pc from last year's Victorian crop, at 7.7 million tonnes, and it expects wheat will make up almost half of that at 3.7 million tonnes.

South Australia is much like Victoria.

The Mallee region is just hanging on, and crops in the rest of the state are seeking a drink.

There are parts within the Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and lower south east that will do the heavy lifting this year.

Western Australia holds the key to this year's national crop.

ABARES forecasts a 20pc increase from last year, to a record 20.3 million tonnes of winter crop.

Of this, it expects 11.5 million tonnes to be made up of wheat; 4.9 million tonnes of barley and 2.4 million tonnes of canola.

These figures are all records in their own right.

The potential of the WA crop has been well documented all year.

This has been driven by an increase in area planted and above average rainfall throughout the growing season.

On a negative note, in the past two weeks WA has encountered major frosts.

The damage from these events to crops is not yet known.

A hefty area of the Kwinana zone has been exposed, as temperatures in some parts plunged to -5°C and stayed below zero for up to seven hours in parts of the Merredin area.

Unfortunately for now, the WA crop is demonstrating strong similarities to the Geelong Cats season - all the promise, yet deteriorating when it matters most.

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