The estimated combined output of NSW broadacre cropping industries was $4,714 million, down 27% year-on-year.
Cotton was the main contributor to output by value, taking over from wheat which suffered from production issues related to unfavourable growing conditions. This significant drop in wheat production resulted in wheat being the main influencer to the reduction in output year-on-year.
Rainfall across most of NSW during winter 2017 ranked between just 20–40% of the average for the season. Limited rainfall saw winter crop prospects decline, particularly in central and western areas of the state, with some growers in these regions grazing out struggling cereal crops. Late spring saw the welcome return to average rainfall across most of the state, which benefited some late sown and late maturing winter crops but delayed harvest in some areas.
The dry winter conditions and frequent late spring frosts ultimately had a detrimental effect on winter crop yields. Oil contents were lower than normal in canola, however protein levels in wheat were higher.
The summer dryland cropping season commenced reasonably positively as late spring rains boosted planting prospects, but with limited subsoil moisture reserves and a lack of follow-up rain, yields failed to meet their full potential. Planting of irrigated cotton was well advanced by the beginning of the season with the dry winter and early spring rainfall assisting ground preparation and warmer soil temperatures allowing timely sowing.
The dry conditions persisted throughout the 2017–18 summer and while some good falls of rain were recorded, it was highly variable, patchy, and largely ineffective. Conditions had further deteriorated by autumn, with the vast majority of the NSW agricultural production zone experiencing mild to severe drought.
As of 30 June 2018, approximately 99% of the state was covered by one of the three drought categories: 40% of the state was drought affected, 44% in drought and 15% in intense drought.