AUSTRALIA is set for its biggest canola crop since 2017-18 according to Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) data.

In its October crop report, the AOF flagged a national crop of 3.3 million tonnes, which would make it the largest since 3.6m tonnes was harvested in 2017-18.

Nick Goddard, AOF chief executive, said big gains had come out of NSW, which was hit hard by drought last year, while Victoria is on track for another big season.

On the other hand he said Western Australia was unlikely to produce as much canola as last year due to a hot and dry spring even in the generally mild south of the state, where much of its canola is grown.

He said after producing just 176,000 tonnes last year NSW was set to grow 900,000t this year, leap-frogging Victoria to become the second largest production state after WA, with 1.21m tonnes.

Average yields in NSW are up to 1.8 tonnes a hectare, from 1.1t/ha last year, with planted area also up markedly.

Victoria’s average yields will be slightly higher than NSW, at 1.9t/ha but forecast production is slightly lower at 855,000t.

“There has been good spring rain in some parts of the Mallee so there is potentially further upside to the yield estimates,” Mr Goddard said.

He said there was still scope for Victoria to produce more than NSW if the cool finish there bolstered yields and NSW storms impacted significant areas.

At present while there have been reports of canola crops destroyed by hail these are isolated examples and Mr Goddard said the industry hoped the storms would not translate to widespread crop damage.

Mr Goddard said a dry patch in July / August had knocked off some yield potential in South Australia but there would still be an average to slightly above average crop at 370,000 tonnes.

In Western Australia, yields are only forecast at around 1.1t/ha, even allowing for southern crops in the Albany port zone averaging 2t/ha.

“There were losses to windblast early in the season and rainfall below decile 5 in many areas,” Mr Goddard said.

“Other crops can be more forgiving and recover after early setbacks but canola often can’t catch up again, especially if the conditions aren’t especially favourable afterwards,” he said.

There is good news on the marketing front for canola growers.

Cheryl Kalisch Gordon, Rabobank senior grains and oilseeds analyst said despite the larger Aussie harvest, Australian canola prices are expected to remain supported in 2020/21.

Dr Kalisch Gordon said EU import demand for canola will approach record volumes this year due to a significantly below-average European rapeseed (canola) harvest for the second year running.

Australia has filled a lot of the shortfall in the EU over recent years and Dr Kalisch Gordon said she expected that to continue this season.

“Australia is in the box seat to provide non-genetically modified canola (the European preference) to the EU,” Dr Kalisch Gordon said.

And there is also good news for those growing GM lines.

“We also expect Australian GM canola prices to remain supported in 2020/21, based on higher year-on-year pricing in the global edible oil complex more broadly and potential Chinese demand for GM canola,” she said.

“The stars are aligning on the oilseeds front, there is a great outlook in the soybean complex and for oils more broadly.”

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