CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Total winter crop production in Australia for 2018 is expected to drop by 12% to 33.2 million tonnes, with production declines forecast in all eastern states, according to the latest Australian crop report from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (ABARES).

Steve Hatfield-Dodds, executive director of ABARES, said well below average production is expected in New South Wales and Queensland because of drought in most cropping regions in these states.

“The very poor conditions in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland have been partly offset by forecast above average yields in Western Australia, following favorable rainfall in late autumn and winter,” Hatfield-Dodds said.

“Overall, this has resulted in ABARES revising down our current forecast by 12% from the one we published in June,” he said. “While crop prospects fell over winter in many cropping regions, national winter crop production is expected to be significantly higher than previous years when all cropping regions were drought affected.

“Forecast crop production in Queensland and New South Wales are only 9% to 12% above the lowest levels in the past 20 years. However, with good conditions elsewhere, the national crop is almost double the lowest national production in the last 20 years, and 9% below the 20-year average.”

Winter crop forecasts include:

• Wheat production to decrease by 10% to 19.1 million tonnes

• Barley production to fall 7% to around 8.3 million tonnes

• Canola production to fall 24% to around 2.8 million tonnes

“Timely rainfall in early spring will be critical to ongoing crop development in many cropping regions in the eastern states and South Australia because of low levels of soil moisture,” Hatfield-Dodds said.