Australia's summer crop production is forecast to fall by nearly 60% in 2006-07 as most of the main growing areas in southern Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Riverina remain in the grip of drought, the February issue of ABARE (Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics) Australian Crop Report reveals.
'Production is forecast to fall to around 1.9 million tons, making it the smallest summer crop in over 20 years,' said Mr Phillip Glyde, Executive Director, ABARE when releasing the report Tuesday. Severe ongoing drought conditions experienced throughout the major cropping areas of Australia, particularly since August 2006, resulted in significant depletion of soil moisture profiles and the lowest water storage levels on record. The very dry spring and lack of irrigation water caused total summer crop area to be cut by half in 2006-07, to 743.000 hectares. 'Sowing conditions for grain sorghum crops were less than ideal, and rainfall during December and January was well below average,' Mr Glyde noted. The total area planted to grain sorghum is estimated to be 427.000 hectares in 2006-07, less than half the record area sown last year. Forecast grain sorghum production of around 996.000 tons is less than half of that produced last season. The lack of irrigation water for rice growing in 2006-07 has resulted in the area planted to rice falling to 12.000 hectares ÃÂ¢€" nearly 90% below the area planted last year. Rice production is forecast to also be down 90% to around 106.000 tons. The estimated 143.000 hectares sown to cotton in 2006-07 is 57% below that planted in 2005-06 and the smallest area since 1983-84. Production of cotton lint is forecast to be down 58% to around 250 000 tons. 'Reflecting one of the driest winter cropping seasons on record, winter crop production in 2006-07 is estimated to have fallen by more than 60% to 15.7 million tons' Mr Glyde said. Wheat production is estimated to have fallen by 61% to 9.8 million tons and barley by 62% to 3.7 million tons. Canola production is estimated to have fallen by 64% to 513.000 tons in 2006-07.