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7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 2002-03  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/11/2003   
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ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication contains preliminary estimates of principal agricultural commodities and livestock numbers for the 2002-03 season and comparative data for earlier years. The data are estimates based on a response rate of approximately 64% of farms from the 2003 Agricultural Survey. More comprehensive and updated estimates for the 2002-03 season will be published in July 2004 in Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat.no.7121.0).


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

INTRODUCTION

Drought was the single most important factor affecting agricultural production in Australia in 2002-03. The 'one in a hundred year drought' saw harvests fall to levels significantly below normal years, and sheep numbers at the lowest level for more than 50 years.


AREA OF CROPS

Preliminary estimates for 2002-03 showed decreases in area for all major crops except barley, oats and sugar cane cut for crushing.

The total area sown to wheat for grain fell by 4% in 2002-03 to 11.0 million hectares. This was mainly due to a 15% (or 500,000 hectares) decrease in New South Wales. South Australia and Queensland also reported decreases, while Western Australia and Victoria both recorded increases in area sown.

The total area sown to barley for grain increased by 2% in 2002-03 to 3.8 million hectares. The dry conditions led some farmers to plant barley after missing the earlier 'planting windows' for wheat and canola. The largest increases were reported in Victoria and Western Australia, up by 10% (or 68,900 hectares) and 4% (or 43,000 hectares), respectively.

The total area of sorghum sown for grain fell by 18% in 2002-03 to 673,000 hectares. In Queensland, the main growing state, plantings fell by 27% (or 154,000 hectares), with many regions badly affected by the drought.

The area sown to oats for grain increased to more 'normal' levels in response to recovering prices. Total area sown increased by 16% in 2002-03, to 908,000 hectares. The three main growing states all reported increases: New South Wales and Victoria both up by 34%; and Western Australia up by 9%.

The total area sown to lupins for grain fell by 8% to 1.0 million hectares; the area sown to canola fell by 5% to 1.3 million hectares; while the area planted to sugar cane cut for crushing increased by 2% to 435,000 hectares.

S1 AREA OF PRINCIPAL CROPS, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p

Graph - Area of principal crops, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p



PRODUCTION OF CROPS

Preliminary estimates for 2002-03 showed decreases in production of all major crops except sugar cane cut for crushing.

Drought conditions in major growing regions saw the production of wheat for grain fall by 59% to 10.1 million tonnes, with all mainland states reporting significant reductions. The largest falls were reported in New South Wales (down by 68% to 2.5 million tonnes), Western Australia (down by 49% to 4.0 million tonnes) and South Australia (down by 58% to 2.0 million tonnes).

Extremely dry conditions saw barley for grain production fall by 55% to 3.7 million tonnes in 2002-03. All states reported decreases in production, the largest falls being for South Australia (down by 50% to 1.4 million tonnes), Victoria (down by 73% to 448,000 tonnes) and New South Wales (down by 71% to 397,000 tonnes).

Grain sorghum production fell by 24% to 1.5 million tonnes in 2002-03, with production down in both Queensland (down 23% to 963,000 tonnes) and New South Wales (down 25% to 573,000 tonnes). While the fall in Queensland was a result of reduced plantings, the fall in New South Wales was a result of lower average yields since area was little changed.

Production of oats for grain fell by 35% to 926,000 tonnes in 2002-03, the lowest level since 1994-95. Decreases were reported in all states as dry conditions saw average yields fall. The largest falls were reported in New South Wales (down by 64% to 115,000 tonnes) and South Australia (down by 66% to 68,300 tonnes).

The production of lupins for grain fell by 41% to 716,000 tonnes. Canola production fell by 52% to 841,000 tonnes. In contrast, the production of sugar cane cut for crushing increased by 16% to 36.4 million tonnes, with good conditions reported in a number of growing regions.

S2 PRODUCTION OF PRINCIPAL CROPS, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p

Graph - Production of principal crops, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p


LIVESTOCK

Milk cattle

Preliminary estimates indicated that the number of milk cattle in Australia was 3.1 million head at 30 June 2003. Victoria continued to dominate the dairy industry, with its herd of 2.0 million little changed from the previous year. Falls in New South Wales and Queensland were offset by increases in the remaining states.

S3 NUMBER OF MILK CATTLE, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p
Graph - Number of milk cattle, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p


Meat cattle

Preliminary estimates indicated the number of meat cattle in Australia fell by 3% to 24.1 million head at 30 June 2003. The largest falls were reported in Queensland (down by 5% or 588,000) and New South Wales (down by 5% or 261,000) which suffered the most extreme drought conditions. Small increases were reported for the remaining states.

S4 NUMBER OF MEAT CATTLE, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p

Graph - Number of meat cattle, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p



Sheep and lambs

Preliminary estimates indicated the number of sheep and lambs in Australia fell by 7% to 98.4 million head at 30 June 2003. This was the lowest number reported since 1947. The largest decreases were reported in New South Wales (down 11% or 4.3 million), Queensland (down 34% or 2.3 million) and Victoria (down 5% or 1.1 million).

The number of lambs marked fell by 9% to 34.2 million in 2002-03. This was indicative of the drought conditions experienced in 2002-03 and the overall small size of the flock.

S5 NUMBER OF SHEEP AND LAMBS, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p
Graph - Number of sheep and lambs, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p


Pigs

Preliminary estimates indicated the number of pigs in Australia fell by 6% to 2.8 million at 30 June 2003. Pig numbers were down in most states. High grain prices, competition from imports and high temperatures affecting sow fertility over summer led to a general decline in numbers.

S6 NUMBER OF PIGS, AUSTRALIA - 1992-93 to 2002-03p

Graph - Number of pigs, Australia, 1992-93 to 2002-03p


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