March 11, 2004
EU Corn 2003 Production Estimate Up
Corn production in the European Union is estimated at 30.73 million tons in 2003, an increase of 0.5 million tons from last month but down 22% from 39.45 million tons last year. Harvested area is estimated at 4.14 million hectares, 4% below last year's level of 4.3 million, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in its March "World Agricultural Production" outlook.
The month-to-month increase is attributed to upward revisions in France and Spain. The yield for this year's crop is estimated at 7.42 tons per hectare, substantially lower than 9.17 tons per hectare last year, which was slightly above average. The 2003 crop produced the lowest yield seen in the European Union since 7.0 tons per hectare in 1991.
Corn planting conditions were generally favorable in western Europe last spring, but the summer months were unusually hot and dry. Most of the corn in Western Europe is irrigated, and farmers in France and Italy were subject to water-use restrictions in August. By many accounts, the dryland corn in France and central Italy was devastated. However, because of the early corn harvest (or in some cases abandonment), some farmers were able to plant higher yielding fall-seeded crops instead of waiting for spring, improving their prospects for 2004.