The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has forecast a sharp drop in the country’s rapeseed production in 2023/24 compared to the previous year, Germany’s Union for the Promotion of Oil and Plant Proteins (UFOP) reported.

In its latest estimate, ABARES expected production to drop to 4.9M tonnes compared to a bumper 8.2M tonnes crop recorded in the 2022/23 season, the 15 June report said.

The bureau’s latest estimate was based on planting operations, which were nearing completion, and the current drought, which was set to bring a series of three consecutive bumper crops to an end, UFOP wrote.

An output of 4.9M tonnes would represent a 41% drop from the 2023 record, according to the report.

According to research by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI), the sharp decline in rapeseed production is lower per hectare yields due to the expected El Niño weather phenomenon, along with reductions in planted area.

“Although in the key production regions early autumn rains replenished sub-soil water supplies and ensured favourable growing conditions, the necessary autumn rain post sowing remained sub-standard in the northern production regions,” UFOP said.

In 2023, bumper crops had overwhelmed storage capacities, resulting in quality issues and storage losses, the AMI said.

However, prospects of good returns offered incentives for producers to grow rapeseed, with the result that only marginal land in dry areas was taken out of production, the report said.