Australia's sorghum crop is more likely than not to come in under average given patchy conditions in key production zones.

Haves and have nots for summer croppers

IT'S the luck of the draw for summer croppers this year. Patchy rain means struggling crops are side by side with those with good potential.

THE SUMMER cropping sector is expecting a below average crop this season unless seasonal conditions improve, in spite of pockets of crop in excellent condition.

Wayne Newton, AgForce grains section president in Queensland, said the storm-driven nature of rain over the summer had meant crop prospects were extremely patchy.

“As is always the case when people are getting rain in storms it can vary a great deal, the variation is not even on a district to district basis but can alter paddock to paddock, just a few kilometres makes a difference according to where the rain hit.”

Dalby agronomist Greg Cripps confirmed crop prospects varied wildly.

“It’s very hit and miss, I’m north of Dalby and you have got some crops that are struggling to finish, yet either side where there have been storms the crops look very handy,” Mr Cripps said.

“The strips of good and bad crops are just a couple of kilometres wide.”

Mr Newton said as a general rule the eastern Darling Downs was struggling slightly due to dry conditions, while he added storm damage had also taken its toll on the central Downs.

“There are places where the storms have been damaging, there has been crop damaged by hail and a fair bit of infrastructure loss as well, so it is one of those things, people want rain but not that really stormy stuff that can cause damage.”

Mr Cripps said overall he expected the nation to struggle to harvest an average sorghum crop.

“The south-west of Queensland, they planted on moisture but there has been little since, it is the same story, it is all very variable, while I hear northern NSW is also struggling.”

He said he also expected mung bean production to be down, partially due to a lower planting than last year.

In terms of crop quality, Mr Cripps said he expected test weight and grain size in sorghum to be problematic in areas that have had less rain.

In terms of supply and demand, Mr Newton said expectations were there would be sufficient sorghum around for domestic users, but said the remainder of the season would dictate whether there was a significant exportable surplus.

“At present the crop is far from over the line, we’re probably looking at below average yields at present, but on the other hand it is certainly still salvageable with a few decent rains from here on in.”

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