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Quality downgrades take gloss off large crop

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Despite the adverse effect of the recent rain in eastern Australia on the quality of winter crops, record yields are still expected according to the latest edition of the Australian Crop Report — December Quarter 2010.

The report was released by the acting Executive Director of ABARES, Paul Morris.

“Up until recently, many cropping regions in eastern Australia have had near ideal growing conditions and this has boosted crop yields to record levels,” Morris said.

“However, untimely heavy rainfall around harvest time has significantly lowered crop quality in Queensland and many parts of New South Wales. Quality issues reported include lower wheat protein levels, a higher proportion of feed barley and sprouted grain.”

Even though production in Western Australia is forecast to be well down on last season and crop quality lower in eastern states, Australian winter crop production is forecast to rise 22 per cent as compared with last season to 43.2 million tonnes.

The most significant rise in production is expected in New South Wales, where winter crop production is forecast to more than double to 17.1 million tonnes.

In stark contrast, the poor seasonal conditions in Western Australia is expected to result in the winter crop in that state being less than half of last season, at just 6 million tonnes.

“Looking further ahead, the current full soil moisture profiles and high water storage levels in Queensland and northern New South Wales has given summer crops a very good start to the season, with summer crop production forecast to rise 60 per cent to 4.6 million tonnes in 2010—11,” Mr Morris said.

The area planted to cotton is forecast to more than double in 2010—11 to more than 550,000 hectares, as producers respond to high cotton prices and the very good seasonal conditions.

Rice plantings are expected to be more than four times greater than last season at around 89,000 hectares in response to greater water availability. Grain sorghum plantings are forecast to rise by 35 per cent to 697,000 hectares in 2010—11.

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