• arrow-up GVP $348 million est. Down 3% year-on-year.
  • Production down 18% to 760 thousand tonnes.
  • Third consecutive record export value at $409 million, up 77% year-on-year.
The key sorghum production region in Northern NSW experienced above average rainfall from August through to November hampering timely field preparation and sowing activities. The resulting waterlogging reduced the estimated area planted as well as lowering yield estimates compared to the year prior. Offsetting the production challenges was very strong demand for Australian sorghum production from China which is the world’s largest sorghum consumer. This demand was driven by significantly reduced sorghum supply from the US due to drought, which is a key export competitor to Australia. As a result, sorghum prices were sharply higher both year on year and compared to five-year average levels. Overall, the combination of factors resulted in GVP for sorghum declining by an estimated 3% year on year to $348 million.


Spring rainfall across Northern NSW was above average to very much above average for the majority of Northern NSW sorghum production regions. 140 This rainfall aided root zone oil moisture for the region which was more than ample, with too much moisture rather than too little being the main constraint. 129 Despite the solid spring break, sorghum production declined to an estimated 760 thousand tonnes, 18% lower year on year but 58% higher than the 10-year average. The year on year production decline was attributable to rainfall and waterlogged fields which prevented some sowing activities. Additionally sub-optimal planting windows and field preparation reduced yields to an estimated 4 tonnes/ha compared to 4.8 tonnes/ha the year prior. 1

NSW Sorghum Area and Production 1

  • Area ('000 ha)
  • Production ('000 tonnes)

Macroeconomic Conditions and Price

The US is the largest producer of sorghum under normal circumstances, however 2022-23 delivered further exceptional drought conditions for US grain production, with sorghum production acutely impacted. As a result, US sorghum production declined by an estimated 58% to 4.8 million tonnes which significantly shifted the balance of supply and demand globally. 124 This severe supply shock was the main drivers underpinning strong export prices received by Australian exporters.

International Sorghum Trade 124

  • Australian Exports
  • United States Exports
  • ROW Exports
  • Japan Import Share (RHS)
  • China Import Share (RHS)

Sorghum Prices 12

  • 2021-22
  • 2022-23
  • 5 Yr Moving Average
China is the largest importer of sorghum globally, accounting for around 78% of all global imports over the past four years. 4 China’s imports more than halved in 2022-23, which was mainly a result of drought conditions in the US reducing exports by 63% to just 2.75 million tonnes. The US is typically the largest exporter of sorghum, and with limited export surplus, Australia was able to partially fill the void left in the Chinese markets. Tellingly, Australia’s exports equated to an estimated 35% of global sorghum exports in 2022-23. 4

Another factor affecting the sorghum market was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although Ukraine is a relatively small supplier of sorghum globally, Ukraine feed grain exports accounted for 14% of global trade in the five years to 2022-23. 124 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and associated feed grain supply disruptions, combined with the drought related supply issues from the US have supported prices, with sorghum prices approximately 20% higher year on year and 7% higher than the five year average. 12


Sorghum exports from NSW were exceptional in 2022-23, with exports increasing by 77% year on year to reach $409 million dollars and a new record export value. This is an exceptional result given this years result delivers the third consecutive record annual export value, with the last two years being record levels by considerable margins. 35

The record export value was driven by two factors. Firstly increased sorghum production helped provide ample exportable surplus of approximately 782 thousand tonnes (including carryover), with local feed grain sector opting for alternate grains for domestic supplies. Secondly and more importantly strong demand from international markets and in particular China and Japan was reflected by sorghum export prices which were on average 15% higher year on year, averaging $523/tonne. 35 Exports to China accounted for 85% of all NSW sorghum exports by volume, and increased by 34% year on year. Meanwhile exports to Japan, the only other export market of significance, also rose sharply from near negligible levels the year prior to 112 thousand tonnes in 2022-23. 35

Japan was traditionally the largest global importer of sorghum two decades ago with China being a relatively minor import market. However, the picture has since inversed over the past decade, with China far exceeding Japanese import demand due to growing demand for distilling for traditional Baiju liquor, as well as stronger feed grain demand for their intensive livestock industries.

NSW Sorghum Exports 35

  • Export Volume
  • Export Price (RHS)


Rainfall in the three months to August was generally below average for most of Eastern NSW including the main cropping regions. 140 The main sorghum production region in Northern NSW remains relatively dry with El Nino conditions expected to further reduce rainfall over summer, and as such the current forecast is for sorghum plantings to decline 26%, yields to fall 20% and production to decline 41% year on year to 448 thousand tonnes. 1 While yields are forecast to fall, they are forecast to remain well above the recent drought levels owing to higher levels of sub soil moisture leading into the season.

Global sorghum production is expected to increase 11% year on year, with production above five-year average levels. The main driver of this increase is an expected recovery in production from the US, which is forecast to more than double production in 2023-24 owing to improved seasonal conditions. 124 The increased production will increase export competition to China, however the lower domestic supply is expected to add some counter support for prices.

Stronger Primary Industries Strategy

New fishing opportunities at Porters Creek Dam

Strategic Outcomes

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Economic Growth
  • 2.2 Support high value, new and emerging industries and new product development
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Sustainable Resources and Productive Landscapes
  • 6.4 Improve the quality of the natural resource base

In September 2023, the NSW Government, in collaboration with Shoalhaven City Council, established a new catch and release sportfishery at Porters Creek Dam near Milton on the NSW South Coast. This is the first time that the dam has been opened for fishing. This new sportfishery is expected to become a popular destination for locals and visiting anglers alike, providing unique opportunities for catch and release fishing for native Australian Bass.

The stocking of juvenile Australian Bass in the dam has previously been undertaken by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) with assistance from Shoalhaven City Council. Now that the dam is open, NSW DPI Fisheries plans to stock 2,500 Bass into the dam later this year, to augment the existing fishery at the dam. This work is part of the Native Fish Stocking program and has successfully established a productive fishery for these iconic sportfish. NSW DPI Fisheries will continue to work with Shoalhaven City Council to maintain and promote fishing access at the dam with signage to ensure that the public is aware of these changes. NSW DPI Fisheries Officers will also be patrolling the area to deter illegal fishing.

The dam will be managed in collaboration with the council as a catch and release fly and lure only fishery, that is, no bait fishing allowed. The decision to manage the dam as a catch and release fishery was a condition negotiated between Council and NSW DPI Fisheries. Catch and release fishing also ensures there’s a population of fish available to catch, noting the dam has received only modest stocking rates, as it was previously closed to fishing. Catch and release only using lure and fly will assist in providing opportunities to target “trophy” bass.

DPI’s fish stocking and access programs are supported with funds from the Recreational Fishing Trust and great examples of fishing licence fees being re-invested back into improving recreational fishing. The work done by NSW DPI Fisheries and Shoalhaven City Council to create a new fishery at Porters Creek Dam will provide opportunities that can be enjoyed for generations to come.