Aussies' Crop May Be Short

Published online: Jul 28, 2003
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Australian processing growers are forecasting a major drop in production next year.

Water allocations will be low and runoffs into reservoirs will also be down after the worst drought since European settlement in 1788.

Growers had problems producing their crop last season because of water shortages. They fear the situation will be at least as bad for the next crop.

McCain Foods said if potato volumes are down again, there will be a shortage of french fries.

Many growers are waiting for rain and announcements on irrigation allocations before planting. In the state of Victoria, mid-September is the deadline for crop planting.

Last year the area planted to potatoes fell by 4 percent or 1,700 hectares-nationally to 37,900 hectares in 2001-02.

Reduced plantings were recorded for all states except New South Wales. The largest falls were recorded in Victoria, down 9 percent to 8,700 hectares, and South Australia, down 6 percent.

Total production for the year actually increased by 2 percent to 1.3 million tons, with all producing states, other than New South Wales, achieving improved yields over the previous year.