National grain harvest 40 per cent down on last year, according to ABARES quarterly Crop Report

13.09.2017

The total national winter crop harvest will be 40 per cent smaller than last year.

The quarterly Crop Report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said the drought, late start to the season and unseasonal high temperatures were mostly to blame.

ABARES senior economist Peter Collins said all major crops suffered significant falls in production.

"We've got national production falling by 39 per cent from the very large crop we had last year," Mr Collins said.

"Wheat is down 38 per cent, barley is down 40 per cent and canola 33 per cent and chickpeas are down about 36 per cent on last year."

He said although the figure was devastating for affected farmers, the drop must be understood in the context of last year's record-breaking harvest.

"Last year's crop smashed records by about 30 per cent," Mr Collins said.

"So, 39 per cent down from that puts this year's crop at a national level at around the 10-year-average at 2015/16.''

The forecast national harvest sits two per cent above the 10-year-average, but Mr Collins said not everywhere would have an average crop.

"The conditions vary widely across the cropping zone,'' he said.

''There are some parts of Australia that are going to look nothing like average.''

He said the north-west of New South Wales and the south-west of Queensland, the northern part of Western Australia have had unfavourable conditions.

"It's likely a lot of those crops won't be harvested."

Late crop and no rain to blame

Eyre Peninsula farmer Mark Modra is in one of the areas seriously affected areas by this season's unfavourable conditions.

"We've had probably the latest break on the Eyre Peninsula on record and so our crops are way behind over here," Mr Modra said.

He said he was counting on a good spring to save his late crop.

"If we get an average spring we've got potential of some of our crops getting smashed. If we get a hot northerly wind and a 30 to 35 degree day that could really affect some of those crops," he said.

The poor season was obvious to those outside the industry as well, said David Jochinke, President of the Victorian Farmers Federation and a grain farmer, from near Horsham, Victoria.

"This year we haven't seen the same rainfalls occur and especially the timings of them,'' he said.

"It's always concerning hearing other people in the industry having a struggle.

"You can definitely see crops that were in early because we had such a late season break."

ABARES did not comment on the effect the production drop would have on the grains market.

The bureau will release a commodities report next Tuesday.


abc

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