• GVP $184 million est. Up 419% yoy.
  • A wetter-than-average-summer boosted General Security water allocations.
  • 974% increase in the area planted to rice in 2020-21.
The industry received a well-earned boost in 2020-21 with rice production increasing 817% year-on-year. Higher water allocations ahead of the season contributed to a significant increase in the area planted to rice, and although a cooler-than-usual summer had an impact on some yields, production bounced back to its highest level in 2 years.

Rice crop protection guide

The Rice crop protection guide summarises the pesticides currently approved for use to control weeds and pests in NSW rice crops, and some issues important in their safe and effective use.

Topics include: • New rice herbicide • New weed issues • Weed ID photos • Rice crop protection overview • Aerial sown programs • Drill sown programs • Insect, snail and aquatic earthworm control.

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Rice Variety Guide 2021/22

The revised 'Rice Variety Guide 2021/22' is now available on the NSW DPI website.

This is a valuable publication for rice growers and agronomists for determining what variety to grow. It contains variety characteristics including yield, maturity, establishment vigour, cold, shattering and lodging tolerance, as well as sowing dates and rates.

Download the guide
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Production and Price

After three years of very limited to no General Security (GS) water allocations and depleted dam and on-farm water storages, NSW rice production found its feet again in 2020-21. Opening water allocations for regulated river water users for 2020-21, announced on 1 July 2020, did not look promising, with the Murray general security water users receiving no allocation and the Murrumbidgee general security users receiving only 10%. 100 Generous rainfall prior to planting in spring 2020 resulted in major inflows to major water storages and increased allocations to 36% for the Murray and 58% for the Murrumbidgee by the start of November 2020. 98 A wetter-than-average summer again boosted allocations in the Murrumbidgee to 100% by the end of January 2021, however inflows into the Murray storages were not as great and allocations remained at 58%. 98

The higher water allocations had a dramatic effect on irrigation costs. This, combined with the higher water allocations, saw a 962% year-on-year increase in area planted to 45 thousand hectares. Production increased by 817% to 423 thousand tonnes, although still down 27% on the 10-year average. 188 3

674 farms harvested rice, with 48% of the production coming from the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area around Griffith and Leeton, 12% from the Coleambally Irrigation Area, and 40% from the Murray Valley. 124 In all regions, across all varieties, there were extremes of both very good and the not so good yields. Rice is very susceptible to cold, particularly during its reproductive stage (Panicle Initiation – PI), where low temperature stress can affect rice development and yield. The colder than usual start to 2021 resulted in consecutive nights where the minimum temperature fell close to, or lower than, 10°C. All of the top yielding crops were planted in the industry recommended sowing window which meant the crop did not go through cold when it was most sensitive. However, due to spring rainfall and increased water availability, some growers took advantage of a later sowing window 30 which meant that some crops did not reach PI until later in the season which affected yields in some areas.

Due to favourable water availability and prices, demand from growers to grow rice was strong. In response to this demand, an initial paddy price guide of $390–$450 per tonne for Medium Grain Reiziq was announced but has since been revised to $390 to $435, assuming there will be no material changes to market conditions. 185

Rice production and price

  • Price
  • Production
Source: ABARES (2021) , SUNRICE (2021)

Trade and Macroeconomic Conditions

The 2020 rice crop n of only 45 thousand paddy tonnes was the second consecutive small crop and the second smallest Australian crop on record. Compounded by no available carry over, this resulted in an extremely small volume of Australian rice able to be processed and marketed during the 2020-21 fiscal year. In value terms, rice exports fell by 74% to $35 million. In volume terms, the year-on-year decline was the same, down 75% to 21 thousand tonnes. 128

COVID-19 continued to impact the industry, both on the domestic front, and globally. Uncertainties around the impact of the virus triggered panic-buying and stockpiling of basic food items like rice during early 2020. Historically, Australian’s consume approximately 300 thousand tonnes of rice per year 2 and, due to cost and demand for different grain types, imports make up roughly half of total domestic consumption. Due to the low levels of domestic production during 2018-19 and 2019-20, the increased retail demand was unable to be filled by domestic supplies. To offset the depleted supplies, SunRice expanded its international rice sourcing capabilities to meet this domestic demand and global demand. Given the variability of Australian rice production, consumption and imports are more stable, with imports acting as a shock absorber for the industry. 2 With new domestic supplies of rice not available after the 2021 autumn-harvested crop is processed, imports were required to fill the short-term gap.

Australian rice imports fell slightly by 12% to 235 thousand tonnes although remained well up on the 10-year average of 176 thousand tonnes. 128 Some export restrictions were introduced during 2019-20 and 2020-21, particularly in South-East Asia namely in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. The Vietnamese Government banned rice exports in March 2020 in order to protect food security in the face of COVID and drought, and shutdown measures in India and Pakistan also affected supplies. 27 108 Although Australia traditionally imports rice from a wide variety of sources, these restrictions did have a significant impact on Australia’s import program. 2020-21 saw decreases in the quantity of imports from Thailand (-32%), Cambodia (-45%) and Pakistan (-16%) year-on-year. 128

Globally, a surge in shipping demand as a result rising demand for physical goods since the outbreak, impacted the availability of cargo containers and led to increased congestion and soaring shipping costs. Demand outstripped supply and spot rates increased by approximately $300%. 187 This situation placed increased pressure on the ability of Australia to satisfy export orders in international markets and also brought rising costs for rice importers.

Australian rice exports and imports

  • Imports
  • Exports
Source: GTA (2021)
Rice paddy from the air


Rice field
Rice production is forecast to continue to increase in 2021-22 alongside an increase in water allocations on the Murray and Murrumbidgee. Combined with some increases in average carryover entitlements and good follow up rainfall boosts to storage levels, this points to a forecast 46% increase in production to 656 thousand tonnes. Australian carry-over rice stocks are forecast to continue to recover during 2021-22 off the back of the anticipated improvement in production. Although domestic stocks did receive a boost from the 2020-21 season, further years of good production will be needed to completely recover to pre-drought levels. 216

Global rice production is again tipped to outstrip consumption, leading to estimated record level carryover stocks of 185 million tonnes of milled rice in 2021-22 with a stocks to use ratio of 35.2%. 105