Lack of rainfall hits crop growth forecast

A report released today shows South Australia’s grain harvest for 2019–20 is estimated at 6.2 million tonnes as a result of ongoing dry conditions.

The Winter Crop Performance Edition of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia’s (PIRSA) Crop and Pasture Report reveals 3.84 million hectares have been sown, with the harvest estimate revised down due to below average rainfall during July and August.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said despite the crop forecast being similar to last season, the expected farm gate value has increased.

“Since the release of the last Crop and Pasture Report and a positive start to the season, many farmers were hoping for significant rain which sadly hasn’t arrived,” said Minister Whetstone.

“The forecast farm gate value for the 2019-20 crop is estimated at $1.8 billion, which is slightly higher than the previous two seasons.

“PIRSA’s total production estimate of 6.2 million tonnes is 23 per cent down on the 10-year average of eight million tonnes. Crop establishment and condition in most districts was good to excellent early in the season, but has since declined as the dry conditions in late winter persisted.

“The report identifies the crop potential in several districts, including Yorke Peninsula and western Eyre Peninsula, has improved from the poor performance of last season. Most concerning is the pastoral zones remain mostly dry with below average rainfall and in some areas, record low rainfall.

“The report further notes that most surface water supplies remain dry, and stocking rates are low or properties are completely destocked.

“In a double blow, frosts occurred during August with damage to heading and flowering crops with some farmers deciding to cut the damaged crop for hay or using it as feed.”

Minister Whetstone encouraged drought-affected farmers to access support available.

“I acknowledge this is a very difficult season for many of our growers and I encourage them to access support if they need it, through avenues such as the Farm Household Allowance, Rural Financial Counselling Service and the Family and Business Support mentors,” said Minister Whetstone.

Producers are encouraged to contact PIRSA’s 24-hour Hotline (1800 255 556) if they have any questions or concerns about animal health or welfare, or need any other assistance related to the current dry conditions.

The latest crop and pasture report is available at

Information and assistance on managing in drought conditions is available at

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