April 24, 2012


EU ups wheat forecast, lowers barley, rapeseed expectations



The European Commission's crop-monitoring unit increased its forecast on Monday (April 23) for the average harvest of this year's soft wheat plantings in the European Union but slightly lowered its expectations for barley and rapeseed.


"In general the current prospects for EU 27 yields are on average," the Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) research unit said in a report.


"Compared to our last issued forecasts rapeseed has been revised down ... and the yield potential has been decreased due to frost damage."


The average soft wheat yield was put at 5.68 tonnes a hectare, up from 5.67 tonnes a month ago and 1.8% higher than in 2011, MARS said.


It cut its outlook for the average yield in the bloc's total barley crop (winter and spring) in 2012 to 4.39 tonnes a hectare from 4.41 tonnes last month, now up 1.1% on 2011.


The average rapeseed yield was put at 2.88 tonnes per hectare, down from 3.02 tonnes forecast last month and up 0.7% on the 2011 harvest.


Crops in Europe endured deep frost in February and dryness during winter, leading to resowing of damaged fields and prompting crop forecast cuts.


But showers during April have relieved plants and MARS noted beneficial rainfall in Spain, southern France and Italy.


Spring barley could benefit particularly from rain this month after dry conditions in March helped sowing, MARS said.


"Forthcoming rainfalls in April could increase soil moisture conditions in Northern Italy, Southern France and Northern Spain and allow good germination and emergence," it said.


For the period of April 16-27, cold weather and high levels of rainfall were forecast for western and northeastern Europe, while mild weather was expected in central and eastern Europe.


In France, the EU's top grain producer, the yield outlook was average in central and northern regions, "with good perspectives if mild temperatures and precipitations continue in the next weeks," MARS said.


The yield of France's main soft wheat crop was pegged at 7.23 tonnes a hectare, down from 7.29 a month ago but up 6.5% on last year.


In the EU's No. 2 crop producer, Germany, yield forecasts were in line with the five-year average, with the exception of rapeseed, which was seen below-average at 3.36 tonnes a hectare but above last year's weather-hit yield of 2.92 tonnes.


In Poland, projected yields for winter wheat and rapeseed were put below average in the light of cold damage, at 3.86 tonnes and 2.49 tonnes a hectare respectively.


Dry conditions should persist in southern Spain and also Morocco in the second half of April, MARS said, maintaining stress on Spain's durum crop for which it cut its yield outlook to 1.66 tonnes a hectare from 1.69 last month and down 31.4% on 2011.


The average yield for the overall EU durum crop was now forecast at 3.18 tonnes per hectare, up slightly from 3.16 last month but still down 6.6% on last year.


For the EU's corn crop, currently being sown, MARS left its yield forecast unchanged at 7.03 tonnes per hectare, down 6.3% on last year.


It raised its outlook for the sugar beet crop to 69.23 tonnes a hectare from 68.65 previously, still down 2.8% compared to the 2011 crop.

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