The report is a quarterly report with a consistent and regular assessment of crop prospects for major field crops, forecasts of area, yield and production and a summary of seasonal conditions on a state by state basis.
Key issues • It has been a mixed start to the 2018-19 winter crop season. Timely rainfall in May in most cropping regions in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales facilitated sowing of winter crops despite warmer and drier than average seasonal conditions in March and April. However, seasonal conditions in most cropping regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales were drier than average throughout autumn.
• With lower layer soil moisture at the end of autumn below to very much below average in most cropping regions in Australia, sufficient and timely winter rainfall will be critically important for crop development. If rainfall is insufficient, or poorly timed, crop prospects will likely deteriorate, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland.
• Winter rainfall is likely to be around average in cropping regions in Western Australia but below average in most other cropping regions, according to the latest three-month rainfall outlook for June to August 2018 issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on 31 May 2018.
• Total area planted to winter crops is forecast to fall by 4 per cent to 21.1 million hectares. Area planted to wheat, canola, chickpeas, oats, lupins and lentils are all forecast to fall. Area planted to barley is forecast to rise in all states because of favourable expected returns to feed grains and it is more tolerant of drier than average seasonal conditions
• Total winter crop production is forecast to fall marginally to 37.7 million tonnes, assuming winter rainfall is sufficient and timely.
• Total Australian summer crop production is estimated to have increase by 13 per cent in 2017-18, driven by increased sorghum and cotton production. This estimate is 3 per cent lower than the forecast presented in the February edition of Australian crop report because of lower than forecast rice production.