Welcome to the Australia Virtual Crop Tour 2020
This is a year like no other. From a global pandemic to catastrophic weather events, numerous variables are impacting crop production this season. To understand what’s happening in the ground, we look to the sky by using scientific-grade satellite data to power industry leading analytics.
This virtual crop tour is taking place 5 October to 10 October, 2020 for purpose of analyzing the conditions key crops in Australia.
Our team of crop analysts constantly monitor the world’s major growing regions using our Agriquest tool. This is a preview of the services we deliver to our global customers from a field to continent level.
On the last day of the Virtual Crop Tour of Australia, we did an overview of what was seen over this week. The tour passed through New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and, finally, Western Australia ①. The Virtual Crop Tour Australia 2020 covered about 95% of the total area for the production of wheat, barley and canola, which should be responsible for the production of approximately 97% of the production of these crops ②. Through the analyzes carried out during the Virtual Tour, we concluded that for wheat there must be an increase in the yield of 54%, 25% for barley and 20% for canola ③. The Virtual Crop Tour of Australia was realized from 10/5 to 10/9 and had the purposes of analyzing the conditions of the wheat, barley and canola fields in Australia’s main agricultural regions, in order to clear the scenario for Geosys customers.
To find out about production estimates from the United States and other countries, contact us.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Did low rainfall in September impact wheat fields in the North of Western Australia?
YES. In the North ①, rainfall has been low in recent weeks. As a result, the vegetation indices has been declining since the end of August ②. In line with the drop of the soil moisture ③. After good rains in early August, drought has predominated in the region and, in September, monthly precipitation was well below the average expected for the month ④. For the coming days it’s expected that precipitation will remain in a low level. Unfavorable for crops.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Has lower soil moisture limited the yield potential?
YES. In the Southwest of the state, in the region highlighted in yellow ①, the NDVI has had a sharp drop in recent weeks ② and is in line with the year of 2015, which was a bad year considering canola production in the state. The vigor of the vegetation began to deteriorate along with the decrease in the level of soil moisture ③, due to the lower volume of rainfall in the region. Therefore, the low soil moisture seems to have limited the yield potential of the crops.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Unfavorable situation in the area of hope continues?
YES. In the Esperance zone ①, the vegetation indices has been declining since the end of August ②. Soil moisture, like NDVI, has been dropping since August and is below the average of the last 10 years since the beginning of September ③. The water balance (Precipitation – Evapotranspiration) is negative, showing the low precipitation of the last weeks in the region ④. For the next few days, the trend is for the drought to continue, but the more favorable conditions at the beginning of the season should limit the negative impacts of the drought of the past weeks.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Was the season in Western Australia affected by the drought?
YES and NO. Analyzing Western Australia globally ①, although the vegetation indices is currently below the average for the past 10 years (deterioration that started in late August) ②, part of the season the conditions were favorable for development and NDVI had good dynamics and was above average practically from the beginning of the season until mid-September ③. In 2015 the NDVI had a similar behavior (good begining in the season and then a sharply drop in the end of the season), and the wheat production in 2015 was good. Therefore, even with drought and a drop in soil moisture, a good start to the season should limit losses in the Western Australia.
Day 4 Production Figures
Even with the drought of the last few weeks, it’s expected that there will be an increase in yield and production for wheat, barley and canola. Despite the smaller area destined for the production of barley (compared to 2019), the estimate is that production is the second largest since 2005, due to higher productivity.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA - Has excessive rainfall had a negative impact?
NO. In the yellow region of the map ①, an area with good wheat production in South Australia, the vegetation indices stopped falling and showed a slight improvement in the last few days ②. In that same period, the soil moisture level rose sharply ③. It has rained more than expected for the entire month in the region ④. In other words, even with the heavy rains recorded in the first days of October, the NDVI had good dynamics in the period, showing a slight recovery.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA - Could less rainfall forecast over the next few days be bad for crops?
NO. In the yellow region of the map ①, the NDVI is above average and continues with good dynamics ②. There has been a strong increase in soil moisture in the last few days ③ which was positive, as the region was without rain and the drought had negatively impacting. Even with the forecast of low rainfall for the next few days the trend is that soil moisture follow above average. The water balance (P-ETP) should also remain positive, at levels above the last 3 years ④. Therefore, the decrease of rain in teh coming days should not be an issue in short term.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA - Has eastern South Australia also benefited from the greatest rainfall in the past few days?
YES. In the region highlighted in yellow on the map ①, the vegetation indices, which was below the average of the last 10 years, has improved in the last few days ② and is slightly above the average nowadays, indicating that the region has benefited from the strong increase in rainfall, registered since the end of September, and which has contributed to the increased of the soil moisture ③. The cumulative precipitation shows good rain in recent weeks ④ but according to the European (ECMWF) and American (GFS) model, the volume of rainfall in the region is expected to decrease in the coming days, however, the soil moisture level should remain at good level (above average), so the lower level of rains should not be a problem in the next days.
Day 3 Production Figures
Only the area destined for barley should decrease in relation to 2019, down 0.6%. Despite this, production is expected to increase by almost 19% due to higher yield, the result of better weather conditions this year. Wheat production is expected to increase just over 48% over the previous year and is expected to be the third largest since 2001, as a result of both the increase in the area for planting and the good yield in the region.
VICTORIA - Is the senescence period more advanced in Northern Victoria?
YES. In Northern Victoria ①, the vegetation indices has declined in the last few days ②, which indicates that senescence is more advanced in the region compared to other areas. Accumulated rainfall has been good for the past few weeks and is expected to remain so in the coming days. In early August there were low temperatures ④ (below zero degrees Celsius or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit), however, it had no negative impact on the vigor of the vegetation. For the next few days, the expectation is that the climatic conditions will be favorable.
VICTORIA - Are conditions still favorable in Victoria?
YES. In the yellow region of the map ①, an area with good barley production in Victoria, the NDVI continues with good dynamics ②, similar to the good year of 2017. Soil moisture is in a good level ③ and should continue at this way at least in the short term, which is favorable for the development of crops. The water balance (precipitation – evapotranspiration) is close to the average of the last 10 years and should improve slightly over the next few days ④. The scenario should remain favorable in the region.
VICTORIA - Has high rainfall in South Victoria benefited crops?
YES. In the South of Victoria, in the yellow region of the map ①, the vegetation indices has slightly improved in the last few days ②, indicating that the region has benefited from the good volume of rain in recent weeks that has contributed to the increase in soil moisture since the beginning of September ③. The cumulative precipitation shows the good rains in the last few weeks ④ and according to the European model (ECMWF) it should continue to rain well in the region, so the soil moisture should remain at a good level, a favorable scenario in the region.
Day 2 Production Figures
In general, the estimate is that production in Victoria will be higher this year compared to the previous year. For wheat and canola, it’s expected an increase in the area, production and yield. For barley, despite of the yield slightly below last year, the estimate is for an increase in production due to the larger area destined for planting in the current season. It is worth remembering that the estimates are made based on the updated indicators, therefore, there may be a change in the production estimate in the coming weeks.
NEW SOUTH WALES: Has below-average soil moisture been negative in the north of the state?
NO. In the North of New South Wales ①, the vegetation indices remains at a high level ②, in line with the positive year of 2015 and well above the average and of the last three years. Soil moisture is close to average ③ and has been throughout the season until then. In recent years, low soil moisture has limited the development of crops and negatively impacted the potential yield. In this year, the water balance is very close to the average of the last 10 years ④. For the next few days the forecast is that there will be low rainfall, which should keep soil moisture below average, however, it should not be an issue for wheat fields in the short term.
NEW SOUTH WALES - Are there problems in central area of New South Wales with excessive rainfall?
NO. In the center of the state ①, the NDVI has shown good dynamics in this season ②, even better than the very good years of 2015 and 2016, a factor that leads us to expect good agricultural production in that region. In this area, monthly precipitation was high in August ③ and September ④ (above average), but there have been no problems with excess of water so far. Soil moisture rose sharply in September ⑤ and has contributed to the good development of the crop, whose vegetation indices is at the highest level in the last at least 5 years. For the next few days, it’s expected a decrease of soil moisture, but should not be an issue for the short term.
NEW SOUTH WALES - Can low temperatures in South New South Wales cause damage to production?
NO. In the South of the state ①, the vigor of the vegetation is at a good level, well above the average of the last 10 years, in line with the good year of 2015 ②. Good rainfall throughout the season keeps soil moisture above average in past months ③, favorable for crop development. Even low temperatures ④ (below 0 degrees Celsius or less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit) in early August did not result in a sharp drop of the NDVI, which remains well above the average of recent years. For the next few days, it’s expected good level of precipitation, a favorable scenario.
Day 1 Production Figures
The good climatic conditions and the increase in the area destined for planting should result in a strong increase in the production of wheat, barley and rapeseed. According to our estimates, for wheat the trend is for production to be 97% higher than in 2019, while for barley and rapeseed production is expected to be around 39% and 59% higher in the annual comparison.