July 10, 2012


France's 2012 soft wheat crop up 5.8% at 35.9 million tonnes



The French farm ministry said on Monday (July 9) in its first estimate of 2012 wheat output in the EU's top producer that France this year, should produce 35.9 million tonnes of soft wheat, an increase of 5.8% compared last year.


The production forecast was the same as that issued late last week by French farm agency FranceAgriMer.


The ministry's estimate was based on a projected average yield of 7.35 tonnes a hectare, up from 6.8 tonnes in 2011, which offset a fall in area to 4.9 million hectares from five million last year.


"In contrast to the very dry spring of 2011, the return this year of wet weather from April was beneficial for straw cereals," the ministry's statistics service said in a note. "Despite a drop in area, the soft wheat crop, estimated at 35.9 million tonnes, should rise due to increased yields."


The area to be harvested this year is also higher than previously estimated, with the ministry saying that data from farmers' declarations for EU farm subsidies indicated lower losses linked to winter damage in February.


It estimated this year's total barley crop, including both winter and spring barley, at 11 million tonnes, up 25.2% on 2011. This was based on an average yield of 6.6 tonnes a hectare, up from 5.7 tonnes last year, and an area of 1.7 million hectares, up from 1.5 million.


Winter barley output was put at 6.5 million tonnes, up from an initial estimate of 5.7 million issued a month ago and 3.1% higher than last year. Production of spring barley - widely used for making beer ingredient malt - was seen at 4.5 million tonnes, up 81.8% on 2011 and the highest level in more than 20 years, the ministry said. The expected jump in spring barley output reflected both a sharp rise in area, linked to re-sowing of fields damaged by winter frost, and an estimated rise in yields.


The ministry put this year's total rapeseed crop at 5.1 million tonnes, down 4.2% on last year. This included a raised estimate of the main winter rapeseed crop, to 5.1 million tonnes from 4.8 million last month, and the first estimate of the very small spring rapeseed crop at 13,000 tonnes.


The ministry also forecast this year's durum harvest would reach 2.1 million tonnes, up 4% on the 2011 crop. Among other crops, it reduced slightly its estimate of the area sown with corn to 1.61 million hectares from 1.62 million last month.


It also cut its area estimates for sugar beet to 392,000 hectares from 396,000 last month, and for sunseed to 699,000 hectares from 754,000.