Drought, frosts cuts into canola harvest
OILSEED growers are in the midst of harvesting the smallest canola crop in almost a decade, according to a recent report.
The Australian Oilseeds Federation crop report said Australian canola production was down more than 47 per cent on last season, with a mere 1.9 million tonnes of canola slated for the 2018-19 season.
In comparison, Australia produced 3.6 million tonnes of canola in 2017-18.
Similar to wheat production this season, Western Australia looked set to bolster much of the nation’s oilseed production in 2018-19.
“Western Australia will produce more than 50 per cent of national production, as much as 70 per cent in 2018,” the report said.
“Crops have not grown the biomass they would normally, so yield expectations are lower. There is a higher level of uncertainty for production in the eastern states due to varying estimates of the amount of area sprayed out, grazed, or cut for silage and hay, in a very dry season where severe and widespread frosts reduced yield potential even further in many areas.”
Australian Oilseeds Federation executive officer Nick Goddard said while rain earlier in the month could have boosted crop yield potential, the main benefit to growers lay in boosted oil levels.
“By that time, flowering had already happened, so (rain) may have impacted oil levels, lifting those oil levels,” Mr Goddard said.
“That’s the upside, and it’s probably going to have more of an impact there over tonnes per hectare.
“Growers get paid a bonus if (their canola) is over 42 per cent oil. For some growers ... it might have been a tipping point. For others, it might have lifted canola from 44 to 45 per cent oil, so it might be of benefit to them.”
The report said NSW had lost about 65 per cent of total canola crop due to drought and spring frosts, which led to large areas cut for silage and hay. NSW grain quality was expected to be highly variable with lower oil contents. South Australia sowed about 240,000ha; the harvest is estimated at about 150,000ha.
FORECAST: Experts predict a small national canola crop this year. PHOTO: LEN CRAWFORD