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Australia Set for Record Grain Harvest Despite Weather

The grains sector is set for a record harvest, despite the challenging weather conditions faced in many regions across Australia.

Released this week, ABARES’ quarterly Australian Crop and Agricultural Commodities Report showed a forecast of 36.6 million tonnes (Mt) of wheat, a 14% increase on the previous estimates. This year’s national wheat yield is likely to be the biggest on record, breaking the previous record set in 2021 (36.3 Mt).

Similarly, the national canola yield is set to break previous records at 7.3Mt, outperforming last year’s total of 6.8Mt. Barley is expected to yield around 13.4Mt, the fourth largest yield on record despite a reduction in the amount sown this year as farmers opted for wheat and canola.

Predictions for the yield of all three crops were increased from the previous quarterly report with ABARES forecasting outstanding performance across the board for Australian agriculture, despite less-than-ideal conditions, particularly in the eastern states.

“The gross value of agricultural production is forecast to be a near-record $85 billion in 2022-23, just shy of the record set the previous year,” said ABARES executive director Jared Greenville.

“The winter crop is forecast to be the second largest on record at over 62Mt.”

While floods, rain and hail wreaked havoc on some agricultural districts, others are growing their best-ever winter crops.

“Crops in Western Australia and South Australia benefitted the most from spring conditions, with total production in both states forecast to reach new record levels.

“Total production in Queensland is forecast to reach the second highest on record, despite parts of the Darling Downs missing out on plantings after being impacted by the floods.

“In other parts of the country, the results are mixed with both flooding and waterlogging impacting winter-crop production.”

While a record amount of Victorian land was sown this year, the yield outlook will vary across the districts.

“At the state level, high yields in the Mallee and the Wimmera will offset crop losses in central and northern border regions. However, the full picture of the damage to crops from extensive waterlogging remains unknown.

The state yield for New South Wales was revised down by 2Mt in the current ABARES crop forecast given considerably wet spring conditions.

“Unfortunately, New South Wales has borne the brunt of the damage from the spring rains and subsequent floods. Considerable uncertainty remains over winter-crop harvest progress and grain quality in New South Wales and Victoria given ongoing high rainfall, which could lead to downgrades in production value.

“Harvests in Victoria and New South Wales are likely to run well into summer.”

Strong yields and buoyant prices are set to net the Australian grains industry a record-breaking $51 billion this financial year, with the gross value for wheat and barley at a record high.

The livestock industry is set to contribute an additional $34 billion to that figure, making the National Farmers’ Federation goal of an industry worth $100 billion by 2030 more likely.

“Another bumper year combined with high commodity prices means Australia’s agricultural exports are forecast to break records at over $72 billion in 2022-23,” said Dr Greenville.

Sources: Grain Central

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