Australia's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (ABARES) June crop report shows that dry autumn conditions in the eastern Australia regions of Queensland and New South Wales as well as Western Australia led to a reduction in seeded acres for the 2018/19 winter crop. Total area seeded is down 4% from 2017 to 52.3 million acres, the lowest in three years and the second lowest reported in the past 10 years (2008-2017), while 4.7% below the 10-year average. By region, seeded acres fell by 13% in New South Wales, the lowest acreage shown in data stretching back 10 years. Queensland seeded acres fell by 16%, the lowest in three years, while Western Australia acres fell by 2%, also the lowest in three years.
The country's total winter crop production is forecast to fall by .4% in 2018/19 to 37.676 million metric tons, down 7.7% from the 10-year average of 40.825 mmt. By crop, as seen on the attached chart, barley was the overall winner given an increase in seeded acres along with a corresponding year-over-year increase in production expected. The government's recent forecast points to a 10% hike in acres dedicated to barley, leading to a 3% increase in production overall at 9.196 mmt.
Despite an estimate that suggests a year-over-year decline in acres seeded to wheat (2.3%) and oats (6.6%), production is estimated to increase by 3.1% to 21.9 mmt for wheat and by .1% to 1.120 mmt for oats. Note that the USDA's June WASDE report pegged Australia's wheat production at 24 mmt. The current government forecast is 12% below the country's five-year average.
As seen on the chart, producers cut back on acres seeded to canola and pulses, including lentils, field peas and chickpeas, leading to a year-over-year reduction in estimated production. The largest reduction, on a percentage basis, is seen in chickpeas, with a 52.7% reduction in seeded acres tied to an estimated 40.1% reduction in forecast production, linked to India's trade barriers.
Canola acres are estimated to have been trimmed by 9.8% from 2017 while production is expected to fall by 15.6% to 3.1 mmt. This would be the lowest estimated production in three years and 14.6% below the five-year average.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's last extended outlook called for normal precipitation in Western Australia, while the other five regions are forecast to see below-average precipitation in the June-through-August period. These five regions are forecast to have seeded 52.4% of the country's canola acres and 60.5% of the country's wheat acres, while ranging up to 91% of the country's field pea crop, 96.9% of the lentil crop and 99.5% of the chickpea acres, based on ABARES estimates. At the same time, as one Australian analyst stated to Dow Jones, "There is still plenty of winter left."
Australia's Weekly Rainfall Update as of June 12 shows that a large percentage of the cropping area received precipitation over the previous week, although the Impact on Drought page shows that a significant deficit remains in southern and eastern areas of the country that bears watching.
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