AUSTRALIA – Australia produces over 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of oilseed crops each year, with canola and cotton seed accounting over 90% of total production.

According to a USDA report, there are forecasts of 2018/19 canola production to expand to 4 MMT, up 8% from the previous year because of improved climatic conditions.

In 2018/19, cottonseed production is forecast at 1.1MMT, partly due to a lower seed extraction rate for cotton using the Bollgard III cotton variety.

Canola is Australia’s third largest broad acre crop after wheat and barley, and it is widely grown across southeast and Western Australia (WA).

Cottonseed is a by-product of cotton production and is crushed to produce oil for human consumption and seed for animal feed.

Olive oil production is also slowly expanding and is expected to reach 22,000 MT in 2018/19.

There are few official statistics on other oilseeds, such as soybeans and sunflowers, but the production volume is very small.

Australia’s varied seasonal conditions have a significant impact on the size of harvested crop areas and overall production.

After poor climatic conditions in 2017/18, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting average rainfall for most oilseed growing regions for the three months to June 2018.

Good rainfall in various regions during February and March 2018 has improved the outlook for oilseed production, after a sustained period of dry and hot conditions in most growing regions.

The emergence of southern New South Wales (NSW) as a major cotton producer has moderated the impact of adverse climatic conditions as water reliability is higher in this region than in northern NSW or Queensland.

Production in Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, and the Murray River regions is expected to account for at least 25% of the Australian cotton crop in 2018/19 and has been supported by an expansion in dry-land cotton plantings and cotton gins.

Usually, most canola production is rain-fed, whereas 80-95% of cotton production is irrigated, depending on seasonal conditions.

Dam storage levels throughout Queensland and NSW have fallen in late 2017 and early 2018, but it is still expected to be sufficient enough to support crop production.

Access to irrigated water is likely to support cotton and cottonseed production, while good soil moisture in NSW and Victorian canola growing regions will support production in the 2018/19 season.