March 27, 2012


EU 2012 soft wheat, barley crop yields likely to rise



Despite frost damage, average yields of the EU's soft wheat and barley crops should rise this year, the European Commission's crop-monitoring unit said in a report on Monday (Mar 26).


In its first estimates for the forthcoming harvest in the 27-member bloc, the Monitoring Agricultural ResourceS (MARS), a research unit of the European executive, put the EU's average yield for the bloc's soft wheat crop at 5.67 tonnes per hectare in 2012, up 1.7% on last year and 1.8% above the 2007-11 average.


For barley, winter and spring together, the EU's average yield in 2012 should be at 4.41 tonnes per hectare, up 2.6% on 2011 and 1.3% above the five-year average.


Of this, the average yield of the winter barley harvest was expected at 5.24 tonnes per hectare, up 3.6% on last year, while the spring barley yield was pegged at 3.88 tonnes per hectare, up 1.7% on last year.


For rapeseed, MARS expected the EU's average crop yield to gain 5.5% on last year at 3.02 tonnes per hectare.


On the other hand, the EU durum yield is forecast to fall 7.2% to 3.16 tonnes per hectare from last year's good crop, but be little changed from the five-year average of 3.18 tonnes per hectare.


The Commission's research unit expected the average yield of the EU's 2012 corn harvest to shed 6.3% to 7.03 tonnes per hectare from an exceptional crop in 2011. It would still be 1.6% above the 2007-11 average.


The sugar beet average yield in the bloc should fall 3.1% to 68.65 tonnes per hectare but remain 1.5% above the five-year average, MARS said. It noted that these early forecasts were mainly based on trend and average values. For some grains, mainly spring crops, EU averages are calculated on estimates for a limited number of countries but include the main producers.


MARS, which also analyses weather data in neighbouring countries, said its simulations indicated likely frost kill in eastern France, the Benelux states, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, some spots in Romania and in Ukraine.


Although the Commission's research unit did not quantify damage from the dry weather, it noted temperatures would remain mild and rain scarce until the end of the month.


"In the British Isles, France, Benelux, Germany, south of Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, rainfall will not exceed five millimetres," it wrote, noting that it was below average.


Concerns are rising among farmers and in grain markets that dryness could further cut yields after damage linked to the cold snap earlier this year, pushing new crop wheat prices to their highest level in around nine months on Monday.

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