THE MINISTER for Agriculture has praised Australian farmers, saying the effort in producing a crop 14 per cent higher than the five-year average is admirable, given the near-drought rainfall in many areas.
ABARES released its December crop report this week, which flags a winter crop of 35.1 million tonnes, down 23pc on last year’s record.
It is also slightly down on ABARES’ September estimate, down 3pc, or 1.1 million tonnes.
However, given the lack of rainfall throughout the late spring in most areas, this is viewed as a good result.
“The report is better news than some producers had expected,” Minister Ludwig said.
And it is not a matter of ABARES throwing out inflated numbers in comparison to other analysts.
While its wheat estimate of 22mt is slightly higher than some trade assessments, the majority are between 21 and 22mt.
Barley production is forecast to be at 6.9mt and canola at 2.6mt.
The report has forecast a strong summer crop, with production to remain largely unchanged from last season at around 5.5 million tonnes, in spite of a 2pc fall in plantings.
However, a switch from cotton to sorghum means there will be more tonnes.
Minister Ludwig said the area planted to summer crops is estimated to be just below 1.6 million hectares, with the area planted to grain sorghum forecast to increase by around 16 per cent to 762,000 hectares.
“Favourable grains prices and falling cotton prices have made grain sorghum a more attractive option to producers than dryland cotton,” Minister Ludwig said.
“The area planted to rice is also forecast to rise, reflecting plentiful supplies of irrigation water in southern New South Wales.”