August 14, 2012


France's soft wheat crop forecast up


French soft wheat crop forecast for this year has been raised by FranceAgriMer to more than 36.5 million tonnes, higher than last year's 34 million as it confirmed a wet spring had helped after a severe winter frost.


As of August 9, the national yield was estimated at 7.5 tonnes per hectare, well above the average of the past five years at 7.1 tonnes, FranceAgriMer said in a joint update with crop institutes Arvalis, Cetiom and UNIP released late on Friday (Aug 10).


In its previous forecast in July, FranceAgriMer had put 2012 wheat production at 35.9 million tonnes. Its new estimate is close to the farm ministry's current crop projection at 36.7 million.


"In most regions, yields are higher than the five-year average. This is notably due to the cool, wet conditions during spring," it said, adding that there were some variations in yields depending on the impact of frost and plant disease.


The quality of the wheat harvest was satisfactory, although rain that has delayed harvesting this summer had led to some contrasting results, FranceAgriMer said.

Protein content was mostly between 11-11.5%, with some results at up to 12% and some below the average range.


Specific weight was satisfactory with readings frequently above 76-77 kilogrammes per hectolitre but rain may have affected some results, the office said. It added that the wet weather had in northern France had also raised concerns about Hagberg falling numbers, another criteria for determining if wheat is suitable for flour-making.


In other crops, the barley harvest was put at about 11.5 million tonnes, up 30% on last year, including a winter barley crop of 6.9 million tonnes and spring barley production of more than 4.5 million tonnes, FranceAgriMer said.


Strong yields of winter barley had helped offset loss of fields to frost, the office said, adding the winter barley crop may beat a yield record of seven tonnes hectare set in 2004. Spring barley output was boosted by a large area sown after the frost damage suffered by winter crops and by good yields, the office said. Malting quality of spring barley was favourable, it said, citing protein content 9.5% and 10% on average and good calibration results.


The rapeseed harvest should produce a crop of 5.3 million tonnes, in line with last year's output, with a national yield estimated at 3.4 tonnes a hectare.


The durum wheat crop was pegged at about 2.3 million tonnes, up from two million tonnes in 2011, with the average yield put at 5.3 tonnes.