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7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 1998-99  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2000   
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MEDIA RELEASE

May 30, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
62/2000

Australia's grain production up

Production levels for most major Australian cereal grain crops increased for the year ended March 1999 according to the Agricultural Commodity Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Farmers reported improved yields for all crops and increased plantings for most crops.

Wheat led the way with an increase in area sown of 1.1 million hectares, resulting in a record 11.5 million hectares being planted. Production was up 2.2 million tonnes to 21.5 million tonnes, just below the record 22.9 million tonnes harvested in 1996/97. Western Australia continued to have the largest area planted to wheat (39 per cent of the total area planted) and accounted for 38 per cent of Australia's total production. The national wheat yield in 1998/99 of 1.9 tonnes per hectare was up slightly from the previous year.

Barley production fell by 0.5 million tonnes to 6.0 million tonnes as a result of decreased plantings (down 0.4 million hectares to 3.2 million hectares). The national barley yield increased from 1.8 to 1.9 tonnes per hectare.

Grain sorghum production increased by 75 per cent to 1.9 million tonnes as a result of increased yields, up from 2.1 to 3.2 tonnes per hectare. Plantings also increased, up from 0.5 million hectares to 0.6 million hectares. Grain sorghum displaced oats as the third biggest crop in terms of production.

The Australian oats harvest was up 0.2 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes. The increase in production was due to a rise in average yield, up from 1.7 tonnes per hectare in 1997/98 to 2.0 tonnes per hectare in 1998/99. The area sown fell once again, down 3% to 0.9 million hectares.

The national grape harvest reached record levels in 1998/99. The estimate of area of grape vines increased 25 per cnet to 123,000 hectares and the estimate of grapes produced increased 14 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes in 1998/99.

The Australian dairy herd continued to grow, with an estimated 3.2 million head at 31 March 1999, up 5 per cent from the previous year. Victoria recorded the nation's largest dairy herd of 1.9 million. The estimated beef cattle herd of 23.4 million head was 2 per cent lower than the previous year, with Queensland accounting for 45 per centof the national total (10.4 million head).

The sheep and lamb flock fell to an estimated 115.5 million head, the lowest number since 1952. All States recorded decreased flock sizes. The biggest falls in sheep and lamb numbers were in Western Australia and Queensland which both recorded decreases of 4 per cent.

Details are available in Agricultural Commodities 1998-99 (cat. no. 7121.0) available from ABS bookshops. The summary of the publication may be found on this site. If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication, contact the ABS Bookshop in your capital city.

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