Bumper winter crops


AUSTRALIA is set for a second consecutive bumper winter harvest, with total production forecast to come in just five per cent shy of last year’s near-record crop, according to Rabobank.

In its just-released Australian Winter Crop 2021/22 Production, Price and Inputs Forecast, the specialist agribusiness bank estimates the nation will harvest 52.87 million tonnes of winter grains, oilseeds and pulses this season.

While down five per cent on last year’s crop, this is still a hefty 25 per cent above the five-year average.

Canola is the stand-out mover, with production estimated to reach a new record of 5.16 million tonnes (up 14 per cent on last year and a stellar 48 per cent above the five-year average), driven by increased planting and favourable growing conditions in many regions.

Australia’s wheat production is expected to come in at 31.9 million tonnes (down four per cent on last year, but still 35 per cent above the five-year average).

Barley production is forecast to be down 10 per cent on last year to 11.7 million tonnes, though also still up on the five-year average (by seven per cent).

Report co-author, Rabobank agriculture analyst Dennis Voznesenski said Australia’s second consecutive very large winter crop “comes at an opportune time for local

growers, with global shortages and high prices for grains and oilseeds”.

“Short global supplies of grains and oilseeds will continue to support Australian prices over the year ahead,” he said.

“Although global prices can be expected to soften as new crops in different regions around the world come into play, the uncertainty that exists around seasonal conditions in grain-growing areas and the process of global grain stocks re-building will keep prices at least above the range of the last six to seven years.”

The report notes favourable growing conditions in Australia have seen expectations of increased amounts of high-protein wheat in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia this harvest – “timed perfectly” with a current global shortage of high-protein wheat, due to drought in North America.

Other factors of note for this year’s winter crop include a lower supply of malt-quality barley – due to a reduction in barley planting, and particularly malt varieties – and less grain baled for hay because of export concerns due to a largely-closed Chinese hay market.

“There is also a proportion of last year’s record east coast harvest – 10 to 15 per cent – that remains on farm,” Mr Voznesenski said.

“This will compete with the coming crop for storage space and mean more delivery and price pressure during harvest.”