The Aussie 2022-23 summer crop is expected to be above average but below the year-ago levels on the back of adverse weather that prevailed adding to drier spells that swept across the country in the preceding months. Drier conditions have persisted over most of the agricultural area for summer crops to date. Some areas however received heavy rainfall due to thunderstorms.
Temperatures during the day have also trended above average away from the South Coast albeit with few anomalies. That notwithstanding, a report from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry confirms a third consecutive La Nina which has brought well above average rainfall so far this year. However, that has not been enough to offset the shortfalls in conditions, perfect for planting and growing.
These have all ended up in lower soil moisture levels which inhibited the planting progress of the summer crops towards the end of the planting months. Crops that had been seeded hitherto, however, haven’t suffered that fate and were established well into the flowering and grain fill stage of the crop life cycle but the lack of sufficient moisture has affected and reduced yield prospects.
The weather problems have resulted in production for the 2022-23 summer crop is forecasted at 5 million mt driven mainly by falling yields offsetting the increases in acreage planted: rice is expected to fall to 0.5 million mt, cotton to 1.2 million mt and sorghum just under 2.45 million mt- the fourth largest summer crop on record.
On the state level in Queensland, heavy rains left large acreage for summer crop planting unattended to but left to fallow. Queensland’s summer grain sorghum is thus forecasted at 1.69 million mt, down 2% from the previous 2021-22 crop year, although the acreage planted went up 12% to 0.48 million ha this year. A 14% year-on-year gain in both cotton lint and cottonseed production to 0.48 million mt and 0.57 million were not strong enough to offset the reduction in grain sorghum.
In New South Wales, the 2022-23 total for the summer crop is estimated to be 2.4 million mt, down 19% YoY. Grain sorghum is forecasted down 18% YoY to 0.76 million mt while rice is forecasted significantly down YoY by 28% at 0.49 million mt. The reduction in rice is not surprising as the 0.05 million ha acreage planted this year is down 19% from the planted area in the 2021-22 crop year. Also seeing stronger falls in production is cotton lint and cotton seed all down 16% YoY to 0.7 million mt and 0.84 million mt YoY respectively.
The rest of the provinces are not discussed owing to the fact that they do not plant summer crops or not in large numbers to change supply and demand dynamics. That said winter crops are on the other hand estimated to be a record 67 million mt driven by upward revisions in wheat and canola. In Tridge's previous report on the 2022–23 Aussie canola crop, it was reported the crop output would be 7.3 million mt which was a review of the September 2022 estimate of 65.3 million mt. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), now forecast the canola crop to be a record 8.3 million mt. Similarly, winter wheat is also revised up to 40 million mt with barley also predicted to be just under 14.1 million mt.
From March to May, forecasts suggest a rainfall total of about 25 mm will dominate much of Australia’s crop-growing regions. What this means is that accentuated rainfall deficits may persist into the autumn unfavourable for the delayed planted dry-land crops. So while the picture looks positive for winter crops, the same cannot be said for summer crops. What actions are there to take for 2023? For Tridge, the best advice is to take a deep look into the fundamentals and make decisions that would at least half the risk that one sees exist in the market.