IN SPITE of near ideal growing conditions in key canola producing regions through Victoria and South Australia in particular, the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) has come out with a below average estimate for this year's national crop.
In its official July estimates, the AOF has national canola production flagged at 2.4 million tonnes, only 100,000 tonnes above last year's drought hit crop.
Part of the reason is the ongoing dry in NSW, which sees the northern zone in severe drought and the Riverina anxiously looking for the next rain.
However, it is production in a less problematic region that is going to see tonnage estimates fail to rise substantially off last year's levels, which were the lowest since the flood hit 2010-11 crop.
While Western Australia is now on track to enjoy a good year in terms of overall grain production, due to solid winter rain, especially in the northern cropping zone, AOF executive officer Nick Goddard said the break was a fraction late for canola.
"Opening rains did not arrive till early June in Western Australia, which is about seven to ten days later than in 2018," Mr Goddard said.
"The crop in WA is relatively late in terms of crop development and is therefore heavily reliant on very good rain through August and September to achieve current yield predictions."
As a result, the AOF is predicting a significant drop in WA production, down from 1.45 million tonnes last year to 1m tonnes this year.
However, it is not all doom and gloom.
Good rain throughout Victoria means a much-improved season is likely there, with production pegged at 400,000 tonnes, up 60 per cent, while in SA there is expected to be a 29pc rise in production, up to 336,000 tonnes.
Mr Goddard said the Riverina was the great unknown.
NSW canola area is up on last year, but is still 40pc below the five year average and while the Riverina is still outwardly looking OK it is getting to the critical stage for rain, with significant risk associated with the yield outlook for NSW of 429,000 tonnes.
"Rainfall of 25-50mm is needed in the next two to four weeks to maintain current potential," Mr Goddard said.
He said there was virtually no canola planted in the NSW north and that crops in central areas, north of about Parkes, are being grazed out or will be spray fallowed shortly on grain-only farms.
In the Riverina he said growers are currently considering their options for grazing and haymaking/silage should the spring fail.
Mixed farmers will need to replenish fodder reserves and there remains a ready market for hay with ongoing drought conditions in the north.
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