Australia looks to be headed for another bumper winter crop planting, with lifts in wheat and canola.
Rabobank’s winter crop outlook for 2022/23 is forecasting a record 23.83 million hectares of crop will be planted this year, up one per cent on the previous 12 months and 11 per cent above the five-year average.
Report co-author, agricultural analyst Dennis Voznesenski said while the forecast is for another bumper harvest, it was too early to confirm whether the record planting would deliver a similar level of production.
“Until the crop is more progressed and we can see if there are any surprises in store, we have been conservative in our production volume estimates,” he said.
“In particular, we’re mindful of the slow planting progress in NSW and the corresponding decline in yield potential with late planting, as well as overly wet growing conditions.”
The outlook shows a 1.4 per cent bump in wheat as well as a record canola planting, up 20.9 per cent on last year, while there has been a reduction in barley, oats and pulses.
The specialist agribusiness bank said the forecast record planting comes as global markets look to Australia for supplies, amid warnings from the United Nations that the world is on the brink of a food crisis.
This year has seen global shortages due to poor production and export constraints in a number of countries.
Mr Voznesenski said a large winter crop would allow Australian farmers to secure good margins in the face of high costs for fertiliser, fuel, freight and agrochemicals.
On a state-by-state basis, the report forecast winter plantings will be up in Victoria by 10 per cent on last year, and by eight per cent in Queensland.
“Amazing conditions and prices in Victoria have seen a push by farmers to expand their operations into non-traditional cropping areas,” Mr Voznesenski told AAP.
New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia are expected to see small contractions in planted area – of two per cent, one per cent and one per cent respectively.
“In NSW that can be attributed to delays in planting because of the rain,” Mr Voznesenski said.
The report found farm input costs are expected to have peaked, but will likely remain elevated due to the high cost of production and freight, as well as sanctions on Russia and Belarus.
Mr Voznesenski said after peaking in mid-March, a decline in global urea prices was expected to flow into local Australian markets in late July or early August.
Prices will remain volatile, although there are signs they are already starting to ease.
Report co-author Cheryl Kalisch Gordon said a prospective third consecutive bumper harvest would mean Australia would be “well placed to help support global wheat needs in 2022/23”.
“We expect Australia could export around 26 million tonnes of wheat again in 2022/23, almost 50 per cent above the 10-year average and more than 50 per cent above the five-year average,” she said.
The senior commodities analyst said increased canola planting was at the expense of barley and other pulses.
Dr Kalisch Gordon said Australian farmers have planted less barley because of Chinese anti-dumping tariffs that remain in place as well as lower prices earlier this year.
(Australian Associated Press)