April 24, 2012
France's winter grains were relieved brought by rains but not enough to bring this year's crops even to parity with those affected by drought last spring.
Rainfall boosted winter grains - which suffered from a spring moisture deficit following bitter cold at the start of February - in particular in the south west, and in some parts of northern and east-central France in the week to Monday, the FranceAgriMer crop bureau said.
The proportion of the durum crop rated in "good" or "excellent" condition rose by three points from last week to 45%, with winter barley improving by one point to 56% in the top two bands.
However, the soft wheat crop, the most important winter crop, remained at 62% good or excellent. And ratings on all three grains were lower than a year ago, which was itself a difficult period, with France and many other European countries suffering then a dearth of rain.
In some areas, rains had been insufficient to ease concerns that fertilisers would remain undissolved on the surface, and unavailable for spurring plant development. Meanwhile, "cold weather and morning frosts slowed the growth of plants", Agrimer said, in its second weekly crop progress report, based on those produced in the US by the USDA.
The crop in best condition was spring barley, for which sowing was completed during the March dry spell, and of which 77% was rated good or excellent, in line with the figure a year before, and up one point on week.