August 3, 2011


German wheat harvest postpones, French pace increases



Although rains have delayed Germany's wheat harvest and brought up quality concerns, top EU producer, France, is picking up its stalled harvest following the return of warm and dry weather, according to crop analysts on Tuesday (Aug 2).

Reuters also stated that farmers are around halfway through the wheat harvest in Germany, the second largest EU producer, and work in some areas is now running well behind previous expectations.


The southern state of Bavaria and the major grain belts in east Germany still have large areas to be gathered despite plants being ready for almost two weeks.


"There is certainly concern about wheat damage but there is still time to bring the crop in," one analyst said.


"If there is late damage, it will probably be focused on southern regions and parts of the east rather than the north and central Germany where wheat was not ripe when the recent rain fell."


German weather was mainly sunny and dry on Tuesday, giving farmers a chance to get some wheat harvesting done after the repeated delays. But a mixture of sunshine and showers is forecast for much of Germany from Wednesday-Saturday (Aug 3-6).


"There is a lot of market talk about possible damage but it is still unclear how much has taken place," a trader said. "However, drier weather is urgently needed."


A smaller German harvest is expected as a spring drought damaged plants. Germany's 2011 wheat harvest is forecast to fall 4% on year to 22.82 million tonnes from 24.05 million tonnes last year, farm cooperatives said.


In France, initial signs were that yields and quality had not been hit severely by a wet and cool July.


"People have been pleasantly surprised by the impact of the rains on wheat crops," said a grain analyst of Agritel. "There are some cases of damage but it is not serious. We should have reasonable specific weights and Hagberg numbers," he added, referring to key quality criteria for milling wheat.


There had been concern that the recent weather would leave some wheat in France's most productive northern growing areas less suitable for making flour, providing another handicap for French exports already faced with aggressive Russian sales after the Black Sea region producer lifted an export ban.


"For the moment the quality is satisfactory and we should not have a substantial share of feed-quality wheat this year," said an analyst with Offre & Demande Agricole (ODA).


The return of warm, dry weather has allowed rapid progress in harvesting in the north and could allow most of France's crop to be cut by this week, although the analyst cautioned there was still a sizeable area to be harvested in northern regions, which could be affected by renewed rain from Tuesday.


French wheat production is still expected to be lower than last year due to a spring drought, but rain in June and the absence of serious late damage in July has boosted this year's crop outlook.

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