National wheat yield prospects ‘poor’ say researchers

9 July 2019

The July 2019 national wheat outlook is predicting well below average yield across many parts of Australia’s wheat belt, according to seasonal climate researchers at The University of Queensland.

Dr Andries Potgieter, from the Centre for Crop Science at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at UQ, said the team’s advanced crop modelling linked to national climate projections, indicated below average yield prospects for many parts of the wheat belt.

Figure 1:  Percentage departure of the forecast shire median yield at the end of June from the long-term expectation.

“In particular, most of central and northern New South Wales and southern Queensland show significant departures below expected normal yield levels,” Dr Potgieter said.

“Although some regions received good rains during June, it was variable and patchy across the broad winter crop regions.”

He said widespread above average rainfall during July to August is needed to improve this current poor crop outlook. 

The QAAFI national seasonal wheat outlook, now freely available online, is based on the integration of an agro-climatic wheat yield model (Oz-Wheat), which is sensitive to deficit or excess water during the growing season. 

Professor Graeme Hammer, who helped develop the wheat outlook modelling capability, said the model uses actual weather data across the wheat belt up to the forecast date, and then uses projected data after that date. 

“The projected weather data are drawn from historical analogue years based on the prevailing phase of the El Nino - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system,” Professor Hammer said.

“The model has been calibrated against historical shire wheat yield data from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).”

Forecasts are updated at the end of each month, and available online shortly afterwards. 

Professor Hammer said it was important for growers and industry to have access to the best seasonal forecast information.

“This information should be available to industry at national scale as it is critical to decision-making and impacts on businesses from farm scale through to bulk handlers, grain traders, and insurers,” Professor Hammer said.

“QAAFI is committed to using the best science and the best researchers to ensure the monthly release of this national wheat yield forecast to industry.”

The national wheat outlook complements the QAAFI team’s summer sorghum outlook – also freely available at:

View the seasonal wheat crop outlook for Queensland – July 2019.

For more detailed forecasts at individual shire level, please contact: Dr Andries, +61 7 4529 4217