August 11, 2011
France's FranceAgriMer raises wheat crop forecast
French farm office FranceAgriMer raised on Wednesday (Aug 10) its estimate of the 2011 soft wheat crop as the harvest was better after a spring drought.
The office increased its outlook for the 2011 soft wheat crop to about 33.3 million tonnes, up from 32 million forecast in July, as it raised its average yield projection to 6.6 tonnes a hectare from 6.4 tonnes previously.
"The average national yield, estimated at 66 quintals (6.6 tonnes) a hectare, is certainly down sharply on the 2010 harvest (73 quintals) but it is above what was expected given the weather conditions during the season," it said in a statement published on its website.
FranceAgriMer's new wheat crop estimate was above the 32.5 million tonnes currently seen by the farm ministry and also ahead of trade estimates between 32.5 and 33 million tonnes.
Last year, France harvested 35.7 million tonnes of wheat.
Yield results were more varied this year, with drought hitting particularly crops in shallow soils while plants in deep soils or irrigated fields showed much better yields, the office said, noting that harvesting in the northern half of the country had shown yields ranging from 3-12 tonnes a hectare.
Wheat harvesting in France is mostly over but is continuing in some northerly areas where rain has slowed field work.
The quality of the wheat crop-which determines whether it is suitable for making flour or use in animal feed-looked good, although results were also varied, FranceAgriMer said.
"In quality terms, average protein levels are generally above 11%, or even 12% in the southwest and the centre of the country," it said. "Average specific weights are at a very good level: generally above 78 kilogrammes per hectolitre, they are as high as 80 kg/hl in some regions."
Protein content and specific weights are two criteria for flour-grade wheat, with 11% protein and 76 kg/hl specific weight among minimum standards on the French market.
The quality of some crop that had been harvested after a wave of recent rain was weaker, however, it said.
Wet, cool weather in July had also led to a drop in Hagberg falling numbers, another milling specification, and even some germination of grains in most recently harvested crop, but this represented only a small volume, FranceAgriMer added.
Its assessment echoed comments from France's millers association, which said on Tuesday that quality results from the southern half of the country were satisfactory.
For durum wheat, the office increased its crop estimate to 2.1 million tonnes from two million, with quality seen as generally good.
For rapeseed, the office put this year's crop at 5.3 million tonnes, up from 4.8 million in 2010. This was above the latest farm ministry outlook, which revised up the crop to five million from 4.5 million previously.
Crop quality was satisfactory and average oil content could match recent years at 44-45%, FranceAgriMer said.
The crop estimates, published jointly with grains institute Arvalis and oilseed institute Cetiom, were dated as of August 9.