National

Drought hammering winter crop production

By AAP Newswire

Drought has continued to drive down Australia's crop production, with winter production set to fall for the third consecutive year.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences' latest crop report predicts winter production to fall three per cent in 2019/20 to 29.4 million tonnes.

That's down 13 per cent from the previous forecast in September.

Forecast winter production is about 27 per cent below the 10-year average and set to fall for the third-straight year off a record high in 2016/17.

ABARES acting executive director Peter Gooday said early spring conditions were poorer than expected in most cropping regions, particularly in Western Australia and southern New South Wales.

"Below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures during spring reduced winter crop prospects in most cropping regions," he said on Tuesday.

"But the changes in Western Australia and southern NSW had the biggest impact on national production prospects."

Wheat production is forecast to fall eight per cent to 15.9 million tonnes, which is 35 per cent below the 10-year average to 2018/19.

Barley and canola are set to drop four per cent.

There isn't much good news from the Bureau of Meteorology for farmers as summer sets in across the nation.

Summer rainfall is likely to be heavily below average in most parts of Queensland and northern NSW.

Mr Gooday said the weather and low levels of soil moisture at the end of spring meant summer crop production was forecast to fall by 52 per cent.