Optimistic early estimate for 2019-20 grain season

The first grain estimate for the 2019–20 season indicates South Australian production may eclipse the past two years with estimates at 7.95 million tonnes, the highest since 2016-17.

The State Government’s July edition of the Crop and Pasture Report further estimates a crop area of 3.81 million hectares, a return to near average.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the early season grain estimates are promising but further rainfall was required.

“Given the rainfall our grain growing regions have received in the past two months and the lack of subsoil moisture in many districts, there is cause for optimism but also caution,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Our farmers need good rains across most districts to support their crop and pasture growth for the remainder of the growing season, with the conditions over the next month pivotal.

“Rain in May varied from average to above average for most of the state to well above average on Southern Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.

“However, below average rainfall was received in a part of last year’s drought affected Eastern Eyre Peninsula, parts of the Mallee and across most of the west of the state during July.

“Many districts experienced a break to the season in May that resulted in good establishment of crops and pastures.

“The report states most farmers fed hay and grain to livestock to give pastures a chance to grow before grazing early in winter and pastures are now sufficiently advanced to permit grazing, reducing the need for hand feeding in many districts.

“In the northern pastoral zone, conditions remain dry with very low amounts of quality forage available across large areas.

“Last year’s grain season resulted in 5.6 million tonnes due to drought so it is encouraging this report estimates a significant increase to 7.95 million tonnes for 2019-20 but we need good finishing rains in spring.”

According to the report, well-timed opening rains in May helped farmers start their cropping program, completing seeding by early June.

To view the report, visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/cropreport

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