The most severe drought in decades has seen Aussie crop production fall 23% nationwide on the 20-year average, with worst hit regions in the east down 65%, according to the country’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Those numbers would have been worse but for higher livestock prices, improved farm productivity and growth in farm size.
Winter crop production forecasts have fallen again, now expected to be 15% lower than previously thought and half of the 20-year average.
The report, published Friday ahead of a national drought summit in Canberra, said rainfall in the key crop region of eastern Australia – namely New South Wales – was down 40%.
“We expect 2018–19 winter crop production to be around 15% lower than our September forecast of 33.2 million mt, because of lower than expected rainfall in September,” ABARES’ Executive Director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said.
Broken down by crop type, wheat will fall 13% to about 16.6 million mt, barley is down 17% to 6.9 million mt and rapeseed’s down 20% to 2.2 million mt, compared to the researchers’ previous estimate.
Australia’s government has earmarked $3.9 billion for a new Drought Future Fund to finance drought relief and mitigation programs.
Wheat prices in Australia have spiked due to the shortage, with Agricensus’ APW marker up 16% since the start of the year to $274.50/mt FOB Australia on Thursday.
Aussie Droughts and Solar Shutdowns
In 2018 NSW recorded its lowest rainfall in a five-month period since 1900.
That takes us back to the Centennial Minimum, and the last time the sun experienced an extended period of reduced activity.
We’re now transitioning out of solar cycle 24 (the lowest cycle since 14, 1902-1913), and into cycle 25 which, according to even the most optimistic predictions, will see a further 30% reduction.
If cycle 25’s forecasts are anywhere near the mark, more and more farmers will undoubtedly lose this fight.
The resulting impact on global food supplies will rock our modern civilisation.