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Season off to a strong start for Australian grain producers

The first seasonal update videos for 2023 released this week by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre indicate the season is off to a strong start.

The area planted to winter crops is above average, although a strengthening El Nino will suppress rainfall, resulting in a smaller harvest after the past two big years.

Production in New South Wales is estimated at 10.8 million tonnes, 11.5 per cent lower than the five year average. Similarly, Victorian production is estimated at 7 million tonnes, down 11.4 on the five year average.

Production in South Australia is estimated at 7.7 million tonnes, 3.75 per cent lower than the five year average of 8 million tonnes.

Growers in Western Australia are expected to produce 17 million tonnes of grain, 11 per cent less than the five year average of 19.1 million tonnes.

By contrast, production in Queensland is expected to be 2.2 million tonnes, which is 4.8 per cent up on the five year average of 2.1 million tonnes.

AEGIC’s monthly videos feature grain producers from across the nation speaking about the progress of their production programs during the growing season, and come with subtitles in eight languages.

The videos are made by AEGIC in collaboration with organisations from across the Australian grains supply chain, including support from GPA, to provide insights for export customers and grain buyers.

This year the format has been tweaked to include a summary at the start of each video.

Eastern states

According to the July AEGIC update, Victorian farmers have had a near perfect start to the season boosted by good soil moisture levels carried over from spring rain last year.

“We had great early rains,” said Mark Merrett (above), of Kaniva, Victoria.

“I wasn’t expecting this start based on the Bureau’s forecast but it’s looking really good. We’ve got plenty of spraying and spreading to do but it needs to dry out a bit before then.”

Many emerging crops in NSW look okay but conditions in some areas, especially the northwest, are dry.

Early sown crops in Queensland are looking good, but growers who planted later crops are hoping for more rain.

The climate outlook is for a low chance of above average rainfall in the next three months as a likely El Nino takes hold.

South Australia

In South Australia, growers are feeling confident after excellent planting conditions, higher than expected rainfall and ideal conditions for crop emergence.

“Growing season rainfall is a bit above average which is really awesome,” said Robin Schaefer (above), of Bulla Burra, near Loxton in the SA Mallee.

“Annual rainfall is probably a little bit below average but that’s not mattering too much with that extra subsoil moisture that’s underneath.”

Western Australia

Growers in central areas of Western Australia have reported an excellent start to the season, while conditions were more variable in the north and south.

June rain was helpful for crop emergence in the Geraldton and Esperance zones, but more rain is needed.

Good subsoil moisture in most of the Kwinana and Albany zones has led to excellent crop growth.

Simon Wallwork (above), of Corrigin, said there had been 245mm of effective rainfall since March, compared to the 20-year average growing season rainfall of 250mm.

Mr Wallwork, who is also a GPA member, said: “it’s been quite a patchy start to the Western Australian growing season (but) we’ve been particularly fortunate here”.

“Our crops are looking quite good at this point and tracking above average, depending on further rainfall. However, the forecast is for a dry second half of the growing season.”


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