Thursday, May 30, 2024

Wheat heading to a record

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Australia’s wheat crop is estimated to have surged by 119.8% to a record 33.34 million tonnes in 2020/21, according to ABARES (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences).

ABARES has raised its estimate of national production of winter crops by 7.4% to 55.2 million tonnes in 2020/21. 

Chicago wheat futures prices are at the highest level since 2014 at $US636.75 a bushel as Russia curbs exports to protect domestic supplies and cold weather threatens crops in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Agricultural economists are also forecasting that barley production could increase by 45.5%  to 13.09 million tonnes in 2020/21 with canola output up by 73.9% to 4.05 million tonnes.

“Widespread rainfall and improving growing conditions in Australia’s wheat belt are boosting farm exports to grain-hungry China,” says analysts at CommSec.

“Aussie rural exports surged 18.4% in December – the most in 25 years – on the back of a massive 75% in the value of cereal exports to $1.15 billion. And the lift in export income is set to continue.” 

ABARES released its Australian crop report – February 2021, estimating national winter crop production in 2020–21 to be the second biggest on record.

Winter crop production is estimated to have increased by 89% in 2020–21 to 55.2 million tonnes.

“This is 7.4% higher than the forecast presented in the December 2020 crop report,” says acting ABARES Executive Director Jared Greenville.

“The upward revision was the result of yields continuing to exceed expectations as harvest progressed, particularly in New South Wales and Western Australia.”


  • Wheat production up 120%t in 2020–21 to 33.3 million tonnes.
  • Barley production increased by 45% to 13.1 million tonnes.
  • Canola production 74% higher at 4.1 million tonnes.

The 2020-21 summer crop season is forecast to be better than last year but still be below average.

Area planted to summer crops is estimated to be 1.04 million hectares—nearly three times larger than in the heavily drought-affected 2019-20 season.

Dr Greenville says yield prospects are expected to benefit from favourable rainfall outlook and mild temperatures forecast for autumn.

Summer crop production is forecast to increase to 3.3 million tonnes in 2020–21. 

This is around 13% below the 10-year average to 2019–20 because planted area remains below average due to limited planting in New South Wales on the back of large winter crop plantings and a poor start to the summer crop season in some areas of Queensland.

Area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to have increased by 258 per cent in 2020–21 to 511,000 hectares. Production is forecast to increase by 409% to 1.5 million tonnes.

Area planted to cotton is estimated to have risen by 395% in 2020–21 to 295,000 hectares, driven by improved soil moisture and greater supply of irrigation water in most cotton-growing regions.

Yields are forecast to be below average due to a higher than average share of dryland cotton in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. Dryland cotton yields less than irrigated cotton.


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