EU facing biggest wheat crop in 6 years despite late weather hitches – RTRS
- EU still heading for biggest wheat crop since 2008
- Large crops expected in top producers France, Germany, UK
- Poland also on course for bumper harvest
- Spanish drought, Bulgaria floods may cap forecasts
By Gus Trompiz
PARIS, June 26 (Reuters) – Leading wheat-growing countries in western Europe are still on course for large harvests this year after mostly favourable growing weather, which should help bring the European Union its biggest wheat crop in six years.
Some adverse conditions this month, including sweltering heat in parts of France, flooding in Bulgaria and drought effects in Spain, could limit further upside to this year’s EU wheat harvest after hefty estimate increases by forecasters.
Analysts Strategie Grains last week increased its monthly EU soft wheat crop outlook by 2 million tonnes to 139.4 million, while EU grain lobby Coceral hiked its quarterly estimate by 6 million tonnes to 141.9 million. (Full Story) (Full Story)
The changes showed optimism about this year’s EU crop, raising the outlook compared to a Reuters poll last month that gave a median estimate of 137.5 million tonnes. (Full Story)
“We’re still looking at very good production in the EU and what would be the highest since 2008,” said Paul Gaffet of ODA, which sees an EU crop of 139.5 million tonnes.
“The crop was looking even bigger but we reduced the outlook for Bulgaria and Romania,” he said.
Flooding in Bulgaria last week is thought to damaged part of the wheat crop while heavy rain has also raised question marks about crop yields and quality in Romania, a major EU wheat exporter this season. (Full Story) (Full Story)
In France, the EU’s largest wheat producer and exporter, heat in June has caused concern about plant stress but analysts still expect at least as much volume as in last year’s big crop.
“In France, like in the EU as a whole, crop conditions improved significantly until the end of May, but wheat has had to endure intense heat since early June in certain regions,” Pierre-Antoine Allard of Agritel said.
The hot spell may further stress ripening plants in a dry zone of northeast France and hurt wheat in more southerly regions, analysts said. This could add to localised yield losses due to disease in western regions that have had a wet spring.
But analysts still think France will probably surpass the 2013 crop of 36.8 million tonnes, which was already 3.6 percent above the five-year average, according to farm ministry data.
ODA puts the French crop at 36. 9 million tonnes, Strategie Grains at 37 million and Agritel at 37.3 million.
GERMANY, POLAND, UK WELL SET
Analysts are waiting to see if wheat quality will recover from poor levels last year, and feedback from first cuttings on the west coast suggest good protein content, brokers said.
The French soft wheat harvest is expected to get going in earnest next week in western regions.
In the EU’s second-largest wheat producer Germany, weather was seen as remaining beneficial for crops during June.
Germany will harvest 25.49 million tonnes of wheat of all types in 2014, up 1.9 percent on 2013, Germany’s farm cooperatives association forecast on June 11. This was up 550,000 tonnes on the association’s May forecast.
“The volume of the harvest now looks pretty certain and it now seems probable that Germany will have a bigger harvest than last year,” one German analyst said.
“Wheat did need a final splash of water and has been receiving rain this week. In July, sunny and dry weather is needed to achieve good quality.”
Analysts expect Germany’s wheat harvest to begin around July 20-25, with the bulk of field work starting in early August, weather permitting. Germany’s harvest has in recent years suffered damage from late rain and cool weather.
Further east in Poland, weather has also been favourable.
“This year’s wheat yields may be higher than expected a month ago,” said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.
Poland’s harvest this summer will exceed 10 million tonnes, up 4 percent from 2013, Sabaranski forecasts. This is about 100,000 tonnes more than estimated in May.
A major factor in the large EU harvest expected this summer is the UK, where production is expected to rebound after two years of adverse weather that turned the country from an exporter into a net importer.
“Crops have been able to grow in almost perfect conditions,” Benjamin Bodart of ODA UK said. “We reckon yields will be above the five-year average of 7.6 to 7.8 tonnes per hectare.”
Analysts expect the UK to produce between 15 million and 16 million tonnes, up sharply from the 11.9 million tonnes harvested last year when wet weather wrecked winter plantings.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Valerie Parent in Paris, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Sarah McFarlane in London, editing by David Evans) ((firstname.lastname@example.org)(+33 1 49 49 52 18)(Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
Keywords: WHEAT EUROPE/
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