Growers nervous over drier conditions for winter crops
A report is predicting drier conditions will take a toll on this year's winter crop production, with grain growers nervous about the year ahead.
Australia's winter crop is on target to exceed last year's planting but overall production could be significantly lower than last year, a Rabobank report shows.
In its annual Australian winter crop outlook the agribank forecasts 23.48 million hectares will be planted this year, up 0.3 per cent on last year.
But drier growing conditions will take a toll, with the harvest totals expected to be lower at 49.7 million tonnes, compared to last year's record 67.3 million tonnes.
And if climate models indicating El Nino conditions are accurate, production could drop to its lowest level in four years to 41.2 million tonnes, the report says.
"The season did not begin as well as in recent years, however April saw improved rainfall totals in several growing regions across NSW, Victoria and South Australia," said report co-author Edward McGeoch.
"Australia's harvest potential for the upcoming season is expected to be below the recent consecutive bumper harvests.
"We are seeing pretty significant reductions on that production off the back of the record highs last year.
"Although it anticipates Australia is still "well positioned to support global wheat needs in 2023/24."
Crop plantings are expected to be up slightly in Queensland, NSW and South Australia, while Western Australian and Victoria planting are projected to be slightly lower.
Mixed Western Australian farmer and chair of Grain Producers Australia Barry Large said drier conditions would take a toll on this year's harvest and growers were nervous.
"It could quite easily be 25 to 30 per cent down on last year easily," he told AAP.
"Alot of the country is very dry at the moment still waiting for the opening rains...I find it quite hard to see a record crop again, tonnes wise, with the state of the rainfall at the minute."
He said growers were feeling the brunt of continuing higher inputs on things like fertiliser, fuel, insurance and labour.
"Whilst we enjoyed a big crop last year, it was also probably the most expensive crop any grower has ever grown in the lifetime of their farm."