June 13, 2012


France to harvest 33.9 million tonnes soft wheat this summer



As a higher yield offsets a fall in area due to winter frost damage, France is on course to harvest 33.9 million tonnes of soft wheat this summer, close to its 2011 output, growers group AGPB said on Tuesday (June 12).


The yield was expected to equal the average of the past five years at 7.09 tonnes a hectare and exceed last year's 6.8 tonnes, after favourable weather since April boosted crops that had suffered from a severe frost in February, it said.


"Despite the frost, we should have a wheat crop that is at least equivalent to last year's," Jean-Francois Isambert, the AGPB's secretary general, told a news conference.


France, the EU's top wheat producer and exporter harvested 34 million tonnes of soft wheat last year on an area of five million hectares. Frost damage led French farmers to re-sow about 350,000 hectares of soft wheat, mostly with other crops, and cut the national area to around 4.7 million hectares from about five million initially sown, according to farm ministry estimates.


Rainy, mild weather since April has since improved plant development for wheat and other crops in France, and the AGPB said continuing wet conditions this month should not harm crops.


"Even if this weather continues, we shouldn't have problems with quality," Isambert said. "With the repeated rain, growers treated their plants to protect them.


"I think that in quality terms, the harvest will be in line with what we have seen in the last few years."