CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — Prospects for Australian winter crop production in 2019–20 deteriorated over the winter due to unfavorable growing conditions in several key production regions, according to the September report from  the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Although winter crop production is forecast to rise by 11% in 2019–20 to 33.9 million tonnes, it is a downward revision of 7% from the forecast ABARES published in June. Forecast production is around 16% below the 10-year average.

Wheat production is forecast to increase by 10% to around 19.1 million tonnes, 22% below the 10-year average. Wheat production in Australia during the drought-plagued 2018-19 season totaled 17.3 million tonnes, which was the smallest crop in a decade for the world’s fourth largest wheat exporter.

The lengthy drought prompted the government of Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on May 14 to issue a permit for a single shipment of bulk wheat from Canada to be processed for the domestic market.

It was the first time in 12 years that Australia has imported wheat.

Barley production is forecast to increase by 14% to around 9.5 million tonnes, 6% above the 10-year average, while canola production is forecast to increase by 6% to around 2.3 million tonnes, 29% below the 10-year average.

ABARES said crop prospects vary considerably between the states. In Victoria, most crops are in good to very good condition at the beginning of spring as a result of generally favorable growing conditions over winter.

Timely winter rainfall in Western Australia boosted yield prospects to around average for most crops in the state after a late break to the season.

Crop prospects in South Australia are mixed but sufficient winter rainfall fell in most major southern growing regions and the Mid-North for crops in these regions to be in reasonable condition at the beginning of spring.

However, crop prospects are generally below average in most northern cropping regions in South Australia. Seasonal conditions were very unfavorable in most cropping regions in New South Wales and Queensland and winter crop production in these states is forecast to be very much below average.

As in every season, early spring rainfall will be important to final crop outcomes, ABARES noted. According to the latest seasonal outlook, issued by the Bureau of Meteorology on Aug. 29, September rainfall is likely to be above average in Western Australia and below average in most other cropping regions. October rainfall is likely to be below average in most cropping regions.