Winter crop planting foresees third consecutive ‘bumper’ harvest

farming, farm, agtech

Australia is set to experience a third consecutive bumper harvest, with this year’s total planted crop area forecast to reach a record 23.83 million hectares.

The 2022/23 Winter Crop Outlook report by Rabobank highlights the fact that this year’s harvest will be nearly one per cent up on last year’s record planting and 11 per cent above the five-year average. It includes a 1.4 per cent lift in wheat and a record canola planting, up 20.9 per cent on last year, albeit at the expense of barley, oats and pulses.

Rabobank notes that in a year of global shortages and high commodity prices, global markets look to Australia to deliver a “hat trick of great grain and oilseed production”. Locally, the bank reports that “hopes are on” another large winter crop to allow Australian farmers to secure good margins in the face of high costs for inputs including fertiliser, fuel, freight and agrochemicals.

The report also notes that production, combined with the favourable seasonal outlook for the year ahead and the forecast record national winter crop planting, should see Australia on track to deliver another above-average grain harvest for this season.

Report co-author, RaboResearch agricultural analyst Dennis Voznesenski said while the outlook is for another bumper harvest, it was too early in the season to tell if the record planting would deliver another record in production this year.

“At this point in time, until the crop is more progressed and we can see if there are any surprises in store, we have been conservative in our production volume estimates,” Voznesenski said. “In particular we’re mindful of the slow planting progress in NSW and the corresponding decline in yield potential with late planting, as well as overly-wet growing conditions.”

Based on current plantings and slightly above-average yield expectations, the bank estimates Australia will be on track to deliver total wheat production of 32.5 million tonnes (down 10 per cent on last year), barley of 11 million tonnes (down 18 per cent) and canola of 5.8 million tonnes (down nine per cent).

Report co-author, RaboResearch senior commodities analyst Cheryl Kalisch Gordon said a prospective third consecutive bumper harvest would mean Australia would be “well placed to help support global wheat needs in 2022/23”.

“Excess carryover from 2021/22, together with another above-average harvest and strong global demand, means we expect Australia could export around 26 million tonnes of wheat again in 2022/23, almost 50 per cent above the 10-year average and more than 50 per cent above the five-year average,” Kalisch Gordon said.

“Australia is again expected to be able to deliver a ‘strong export performance into Southeast Asia’,” she added, “with “Australian wheat continuing to be the price-setter across the region on a landed-cost basis, due to both a more favourable freight charge than other origins further afield and a lower origination cost due to abundant local supplies.”