(Australian Associated Press)
Australian farmers are forecast to get within one per cent of a record crop planting on the back of healthy rainfall and strong prices.
Rabobank on Wednesday released its 2021/22 Winter Crop Outlook, which forecasts 22.93 million hectares will be planted across the nation.
That’s a two per cent increase on last year when crops planted soared as drought eased in many regions.
The forecast represents an area eight per cent above the five-year average.
Rabobank grains and oilseeds analyst Dennis Voznesenski said substantial rainfall and good soil moisture profiles positioned Australia for another strong winter grain crop.
“With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a 60 to 75 per cent chance of the east coast and South Australia exceeding median rainfall for the next three months, this should set crops up well and have a positive impact on yields in those regions,” he said.
The report co-author said most regions were enjoying excellent rainfall, particularly in northern NSW and WA, but noted parts of SA and western Victoria had the same conditions.
Barley planting is expected to fall six per cent with China maintaining tariffs effectively blocking exports.
That will drive canola up by 14 per cent, while wheat will rise three per cent to 13.3 million hectares.
“With canola prices near record highs, and China’s tariff on Australian barley top of mind, farmers have heeded the call and switched in favour of canola,” Mr Voznesenski said.
“Come harvest time, however, it may mean that there will be increased harvest pressure on local canola prices.”
The report says NSW is expected to plant another six million hectares just slightly below last year.
Mr Voznesenski said the mouse plague continued to be a serious concern, with lost grain and hay reserves, downgraded quality of stock and increased costs for farmers.
“The issue is particularly bad in, though not restricted to, central and western NSW,” Mr Voznesenski said.
“With winter here, we can expect colder temperatures to slow mouse populations. However, crop replanting and a re-emergence of populations in spring remain real risks in the outlook.”
Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland are all forecast to see year-on-year increases in winter crop area planted.
Queensland is forecast to rise as much as 15 per cent to 1.3 million hectares.
WA plantings are estimated to be up two per cent to 8.49 million hectares while Victoria is set to rise two per cent to 3.5 million hectares.