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7111.0 - Principal Agricultural Commodities, Australia, Preliminary, 1997-98  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/08/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

August 19, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
84/98
Major crops down in 1997-98 - ABS

National production of major crops decreased in 1997-98 according to first estimates from the 1997-98 Agricultural Commodity Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Following a record harvest in 1996-97, wheat production declined by 15.3 per cent to an estimated 19.4 million tonnes. Correspondingly, the national wheat yield also decreased by 9.5 per cent to an estimated 1.9 tonnes per hectare.

Barley production (6.4 million tonnes) and oats production (1.6 million tonnes) also decreased, down 4.0 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively. The number of hectares sown to barley increased by 2.6 per cent to 3.5 million hectares. However the national barley yield decreased by 5 per cent to 1.9 tonnes per hectare.

Western Australia produced the bulk of Australia's major crops with 40.1 per cent of the nation's wheat harvest, 36.3 per cent of the oats harvest and 28.7 per cent of the barley harvest being grown there. New South Wales was the next largest producer State with 30.3 per cent of the total wheat harvest and 31.8 per cent of the oats harvest, as well as being the third largest producer of barley. South Australia was the largest producer of barley with 31.7 per cent of the total crop.

There were minor changes in Australia's dairy cattle and beef cattle herds, estimated to be 3.0 million (an increase of 1.6 per cent) and 23.7 million (down by 0.5 per cent) head respectively. Australia's sheep and lamb flock declined by 0.5 per cent, to 119.6 million as at 31 March 1998, the eighth successive year in which a decline has occurred. With expected matings 1.9 per cent down on last year's forecast, the flock size seems likely to decrease even further in 1998-99.

All the estimates are from the 1997-98 Agricultural Commodity Survey. This new survey replaces the Agricultural Census. The next Census will be conducted in 2002.

Further details are in Principal Agricultural Commodities Australia (Preliminary) 1997-98 (cat. no. 7111.0) available in ABS bookshops in all capital cities.

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