August 3, 2012


USDA lowers Europe's 2012 grain crop estimates


Prompted by contrasting weather conditions, USDA was forced to revise its expectations for Europe's 2012 grain crop downwards to 276 million tonnes, a seven million tonne-reduction from prior estimates.


"While the north and west have experienced unusually wet weather, in the south and east, the conditions have been hot and dry," according to the USDA's London attaché.


"Lodging concerns, disease control and, hence, quality are the story in the UK, France and Germany; in Spain, Italy and further east into Bulgaria and Romania, the story is one of a lack of water and the potential for reduced wheat, barley and corn yields," the USDA said.


Rainfall, lower temperatures and reduced hours of sunshine in France and the UK have stunted wheat crop development, said the USDA, now lagging a week behind norm.


"Reports of waterlogged fields are widespread and disease pressure is high. However, a recent spell of warm, sunny weather should assist grain fill and the wheat crops in both countries still have the potential to yield well," said the attaché.


However, despite the unfavourable cultivation conditions, the quality of the French durum crop is said to be particularly good but the country's corn crop view has been revised lower because of a reduction in recorded planted area. But the overall yield and quality is forecast to be good, said the USDA.


"In Germany, winterkill was worse than previously thought and the production outlook for both wheat and barley crops is forecast lower than previously. This has been somewhat offset by lower yielding spring plantings of both crops," said the USDA. "Wet weather is now creating challenging harvest conditions. In contrast the wet conditions are benefiting the corn crop which has also seen an increased planted area due to the aforementioned winterkill of other crops."


Elsewhere, especially dry conditions in Spain through the spring time were then followed by rain in May but it arrived too late for the majority of regions, the attaché said.


"Consequently, both wheat and barley production expectations have been reduced, especially for durum wheat. However, quality is expected to be good for durum crop," said the USDA.


Italy also is suffering from dry conditions but this has in fact benefited both the durum and soft wheat crops where yields in the north are reported to be good, said the USDA. But the country's corn crop is forecast to slump by 25% this year compared with prior forecasts because of dry conditions.