Crop yields hold up well 

CROP yields have held up reasonably well in many winter cropping regions, despite the dry seasonal conditions experienced in the past few months.

In releasing the December edition of the Australian Crop Report yesterday, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) executive director Paul Morris said while total winter crop production was forecast to be lower than the record harvest of last season, yields in many regions were aided by favourable levels of lower layer soil moisture.

"In south-eastern Australia, seasonal conditions were generally consistent with the spring seasonal outlook the Bureau of Meteorology issued in August, which was incorporated into forecasts presented in the September edition of Australian Crop Report," Mr Morris said.

Australian winter crop production is forecast to be around 35.1 million tonnes in 2012-13, which is 23 per cent lower than last year's record harvest and marginally lower (1.1 million tonnes or 3 per cent) than the forecast released by ABARES in September.

At this forecast level, winter crop production should still be around 14 per cent higher than the average achieved over the five years to 2010-11.

For the major winter crops, wheat production was forecast to fall by 26 per cent to around 22 million tonnes in 2012-13; barley production to fall by 18 per cent to around 6.9 million tonnes; and canola production to fall by 16 per cent to around 2.6 million tonnes.

Total summer crop production was forecast to remain largely unchanged from last season at around 5.5 million tonnes.

"The area planted to summer crops is forecast to fall by 2 per cent to just under 1.6 million hectares, largely reflecting an estimated significant decline in the area planted to dryland cotton," Mr Morris said.

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