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7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 1996-97  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/05/1997   
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MEDIA RELEASE

May 22, 1997
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
66/97

Large wheat crop highlight of the 1996-97 season

Preliminary Agricultural Census estimates for the year 1996-97 released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed increases in production of two of Australia's major cereal crops, an increase in the dairy cattle herd, and little change in the nations' beef cattle herd and sheep flock.

Following a near doubling wheat harvest in 1995-96, wheat production again rose in 1996-97, by 42.9 per cent to an estimated 23.6 million tonnes, in line with industry forecasts. Barley production also increased, by 13.9 per cent to 6.6 million tonnes. The Australian oats harvest of 1.7 million tonnes was a 10.8 per cent fall on the previous year.

The estimated total area of wheat sown for grain in 1996-97 increased by 22.8 per cent to 11.3 million hectares; New South Wales accounted for the largest increase in area, with 46.9 per cent more area planted to wheat than the year before. Western Australia continued to have the largest area planted to wheat (38.5 per cent of the total area planted to wheat), while New South Wales had the largest production (36.6 per cent of Australia's total production). The national wheat yield in 1996-97 was 2.1 tonnes per hectare, an increase of 16.2 per cent on last year's yield of 1.8 tonnes per hectare; and almost double the 1.1 tonnes per hectare produced in 1994-95.

The increase in the area sown to barley for grain was 5.2 per cent, with 3.3 million hectares sown. South Australia, with 1.0 million hectares sown, reaped the largest crop of 2.0 million tonnes. At the national level, the barley yield in 1996-97 was 2.0 tonnes per hectare, an increase of 8.6 per cent. The oats yield fell slightly, from 1.6 tonnes per hectare to 1.5 tonnes per hectare. The area sown to oats for grain fell by 4.6 per cent to 1.1 million hectares.

The Australian dairy cattle herd, an estimated 3.0 million head at 31 March 1997, was up by 5.6 per cent from the previous year. The estimated beef cattle herd of 23.3 million head was a small decrease of 1.2 per cent from the previous year, while the estimated sheep and lamb flock showed a small increase of 0.6 per cent, rising to 121.9 million. An increase in the intended matings in the 1997-98 season points to possible continued growth in the sheep flock.

Details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities Australia (Preliminary) 1996-97 (cat. no. 7111.0) available from ABS bookshops.

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