Breaking the drought: Australia citrus

12/21/2010 10:49:00 AM
Tom Karst

An unforeseen impact on orange production for 2010/11 was the heat wave experienced in November 2009, which coincided with the crucial flowering and early fruit-let set period. The heat wave is believed to have exacerbated the already large fruit drop and diminished production beyond previous estimates.

Exports
: Total exports of fresh oranges for 2011/12 (year begin April 2011) are forecast at 120 TMT, up sharply on the revised estimate for the previous year. Increased production is expected to see the exportable surplus increase substantially. The concerns about possible smaller fruit size and the historically high value of the Australian dollar are likely to constrain exports from surpassing Post’s forecast.
Total exports of fresh oranges for 2010/11 (year begin April 2010) have been revised downwards sharply to 96 TMT. Lower production and a stronger dollar constrained exports to below average levels.

The United States received around ten percent of Australia’s total orange exports in 2009/10, down from 21 percent in 2004/05.


Water – Water - Water:
  Eastern Australia appears to have finally broken the grip of the longest and most severe drought in its recorded history. The drought, which began in 2002/03, devastated countless crops and severely impacted livestock industries. During this period irrigation water reserves (much of which are used to generate hydro-electricity) were severely depleted. Many experts feared a full recovery from drought would require three consecutive years of above average rainfall, but most have recovered in the past year.

The sharp increase in rainfall is estimated to have caused over one billion dollars in damage to agricultural crops. In the state of NSW, the government has declared 37 separate disaster areas and parts of the catchment have experienced their wettest year since 1974. In the state of Queensland, the sugar industry has experienced the worst harvest for 20 years due to wet weather. In the state of Victoria, almost all districts exceeded average rainfall and many experienced flooding.

Widespread rainfall, starting on Christmas day 2009, began a period of above average falls which, on a monthly basis, has continued up until the time of writing this report. Far western New South Wales (NSW) was the first region to experience flooding, with the states of Victoria and Queensland following. Some water storages, albeit minor ones, have been breached.



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