Drought, frosts cuts into canola har­vest

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS -

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

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