By Daryl Turner
This year has been a very difficult year for Australian agriculture and especially seed production.
We have experienced record drought conditions across the majority of New South Wales and Queensland and widespread frost has caused issues further south into Victoria and South Australia. The dry conditions in Northern Australia has impacted some of our production crops, mainly tropical legumes, while tropical grass production has been favourable in the Far North Queensland region.
Central Eastern Australia has also been affected by drought conditions and this has resulted in a downturn in seed production of staple species such as Common Vetch and cereals, in particular Saia Oats.
Our Southern production region has experienced good growing conditions throughout the year. The majority of these production crops are placed in reliable production areas which are located further South, adjacent to milder coastal areas. The Southern harvest has just started with the first crops of Balansa and vetch being harvested, variable yields in some crops is expected due to frost events and anticipated summer rainfall.
Lucerne (alfalfa) production has had some challenges this year with growers opting to take an extra cut of hay before locking up for seed, taking advantage of lucrative hay prices due to the drought in NSW and Queensland. This will have a significant impact on the total 2019 expected seed harvest.