Coming off the back of a record-breaking 2016-17, winter crop production is forecast to drop by 33 per cent this season.
The news comes despite what many farmers hailed a good start to the season with timely rain and good sowing opportunities.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), puts the 2017/18 estimate at a conservative 40.1 million tonnes, due largely to an assumed fall in average yields.
According to the Australian Crop Report, released this week by ABARE the season opening was mixed, with total area planted to winter crops forecast to fall by around 1 per cent in 2017–18 to 22.5 million hectares. Acting ABARES executive director, Peter Gooday, said with the expected falls in average yields, wheat production is forecast to fall by 31 per cent to 24.2 million tonnes and barley is tipped to decrease by 39 per cent to 8.1 million tonnes.
“While down on the record production of 2016-17, the latest estimates still paint a positive picture for Australia’s cropping sector, with winter crop production forecast to be around the five year average to 2015-16,” Mr Gooday said.
“While the area planted to cereal crops is expected to decrease, the area planted to chickpeas and lentils is forecast to increase.
“The area planted to canola is also forecast to rise in all major producing states, largely reflecting favourable expected returns compared with wheat, oats and barley.”
Mr Gooday added that autumn rainfall was generally favourable in cropping regions in eastern states, which resulted in favourable levels of soil moisture in these regions.
“On the flip side, autumn rainfall was below average in most cropping regions in Western Australia and some key cropping regions in South Australia, which led to unfavourable planting conditions during autumn and early winter in these regions,” Mr Gooday said.
Among other crops, oats production is forecast to decrease by 38 per cent to 1.2 million tonnes and chickpea production is forecast to decrease by 24 per cent to 1.4 million tonnes.