Despite being the world’s driest continent, agriculture plays a huge role in Australia’s economy. With an area of over 22 million ha dedicated to commercial grain crops, Australian grain trade is a thriving industry, and the country is a world leader in the production and export of grains to overseas markets. Australia’s innovative farming systems and high-standard cropping methods have contributed to the country’s successful export market. Today, Australia exports over 75% of its grain harvest to over 50 countries across the world.
What grains are commonly grown in Australia?
Because of its weather, the Australian continent knows two cropping periods – winter and summer.
Winter crops – wheat, canola, barley, oats, millet, chickpeas, triticale, lupins, linseeds, safflower, faba beans.
Summer crops – maize, rice, peanuts, cotton, sorghum, sunflowers, soybeans, mungbeans.
Although there are more than 120.000 farms in Australia, over 30.000 of them are primarily wheat growers. With a production of over 25 million tonnes per year, wheat is the principal crop grown across Australia followed by other major grains like barley with a production of over 9 million tonnes per year, canola with over 4 million tonnes per year, pulses with over 3 million tonnes per year and oats with over 1.5 million tonnes per year.
Who are the top 3 grain producers in Australia?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 62.7% of Australia is privately owned. From family-owned grain growers spanning generations to multinational corporations, there are some big names behind the Australian grain trade industry.
One of the top 3 grain producers in Australia is the Warakirri Asset Management, an employee-owned hedge fund. It owns 2 big farms one of which is Warakirri Cropping that has over 80.000 ha of land across all Australia. Another big multinational giant is SALIC, the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company. SALIC is a company with a big focus on the production of grains and it owns over 200.000 ha of land in Australia. Glenvale Farm is also a well-known name in the Australian grain industry. It is a family-owned farm with over 4000 ha located in the heart of the Wimmera wheatbelt.
What states produce grains?
The unique climatic and soil conditions have split the land into three main producing areas – Northern, Western and Southern. Whilst all these regions have a deep focus on the production of winter crops, summer crops are more commonly produced in the Northern region.
Wheat farms mostly run across the WA Wheatbelt region. A typical wheat grower in Australia is a family-owned farm with 5 – 10 thousand hectares. There are over 4200 grain growers in the area with a total production of 8-10 million tonnes of wheat per year.
The Northern region includes central and southern Queensland through to New South Wales whilst the Southern region encompasses Victoria, Tasmania and south-eastern South Australia.
What season does grain harvest happen?
Each geographical zone has its own climate. The planting of crops is very much dependent on the ‘opening rains’. The Northern region sees most rainfall during the summer season which allows for summer crop production. The common rainfall in winter as well as the high moisture-storing capacity of the soil also allows for the planting and harvesting of the winter crops. Due to the dry summers in the Southern region, summer crop production necessitates irrigation whilst the reliable rainfall in the winter season allows for a great winter crop production.
The crops that grow over the winter are planted in spring, and the grain harvest occurs from September to December. The summer crops are sown in autumn with harvest spanning from February to May.