Crippling Drought Conditions To Drive Down Crops

The government's agriculture forecaster has revised its national winter crop production, down by 12 percent.

Crippling drought conditions across the country’s east will drive down total winter crop production by 12 percent nationally, a new report says.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) anticipates devastating effects on crop production over 2018-2019 -- as a result of critical drought conditions in the eastern states.

Due to the harsh drought conditions in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland, the delayed crop planting by farmers is expected to lead crop produce to an alarmingly low rate.

"Forecast production in Queensland and New South Wales are only 9 to 12 per cent above the lowest levels in the past 20 years," ABARES Executive Director, Dr Steve-Hatfield said.

Specifically, the report anticipates that NSW crop production will be 46 percent lower than the previous year and subsequently the lowest level since 2006-07. Queensland is trailing not too far behind on 38 percent, set to be producing the lowest winter crop production in ten years.

The unfavourable seasonal conditions will see drastic falls in canola, chickpea and oats production.

In particular, chickpea production will suffer dramatically as it is set to drop by a whopping 69 percent.

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In spite of these startling predictions, the report does present a silver lining. Winter rainfall in Western Australia has increased soil moisture levels. This is expected to facilitate crop production that will be above average, rising by 12 percent.

If favourable spring conditions persist in Western Australia, Dr Hatfield-Dodds said that it “could boost production beyond that being forecast”.

However, in saying this, Australia’s eastern states are relying heavily on timely rainfall in early spring. Such rainfall will dictate the future of crop development over the next year.

The latest outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology foresees that above average rainfall is unlikely to set in on most cropping regions in Australia.