Assessing crop suitability

Activity 1 of the High Value Horticulture Value Chains in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin (QMDB) project was Assessing Horticultural Crop Suitability for the QMDB Study Area.

This activity set out to determine what crops were suited (or unsuited) to the QMDB Study Area, as well as where and when they would perform best.

Most irrigated cropping in the Balonne and Border Rivers districts of the Queensland Murray Darling Basin (QMDB) Study Area is devoted to cotton and grain crops (maize, cotton, sorghum, wheat, barley, chickpeas and other pulse crops).


The Activity 1 final report identifies potential horticultural crops suited to the QMDB Study Area. This was accomplished by:

  • reviewing and analysing published scientific horticultural crop growth requirements
  • investigating regional climate records and soil types
  • determining chill hours
  • reviewing water availability in the QMDB Study Area.

The potential economic viability of selected horticulture crops has been investigated using gross margins analysis (developed using AgMarginsTM).

Three detailed bioeconomic case studies provide specific information about sweet corn, pecans and blueberry enterprises.

The report includes:

  • chill hours maps
  • a new unique chill hours and heat hours look-up tool
  • maximum and minimum temperature maps
  • water availability mapping
  • soil maps


  • identifies “known” horticultural crop production sites within the QMDB Study Area.

A crop suitability matrix for vegetables, fruit crops, native flower, foliage and native food crops has also been developed. The crop suitability matrix details critical biophysical crop requirements and indicates the suitability or otherwise of individual crops.

This crop suitability information is complimented by production window guidelines for both annual and perennial crops suited to the QMDB Study Area.

In consultation with industry, the project team developed AgMarginsTM a crop gross margin data and an interactive web portal  for a select range of horticultural and broad acre comparison crops.

This report also details the latest best quality scientific information relating to Australia’s future climate projections – specifically tailored to the study area.