Michael Inman June 24, 2012
CANOLA is king this winter, as farmers sow a record 2.1 million hectares of the oilseed.
The worst drought in a century has finally passed and primary producers are taking advantage of the favourable conditions.
Canola is currently fetching more than $500 a tonne, driving a 23 per cent increase in area planted this season.
Eurongilly Valley farm manager Toby Jones is no exception.
Mr Jones has sown the 2300-hectare property he manages near Junee with 400 hectares of canola, 400 hectares of wheat, 100 hectares of barley and pasture for more than 5000 stock.
''We went for canola because it's got the better return at the moment,'' Mr Jones said.
''Normally I wouldn't put in that much canola - last year I only put in 290 hectares.''
While canola has increased, plantings of wheat and barley are expected to fall, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
The Australia Crop Report, issued earlier this month, predicts area sown to wheat to fall by 5 per cent to about 13.4 million hectares, while barley was forecast to drop by 4 per cent to about 3.9 million hectares.
Mr Jones predicted another bumper year, slightly below last winter's success. ''We'll be doing pretty well to beat last year's yield,'' he said.
''We had a bumper last year, we averaged 2.2 tonnes per hectare … there's no reason we can't do that again because we've got the subsoil moisture there.
''It'll just depend on the rainfall between now and November.''