October 11, 2011


France, Italy to have high corn yields



Major corn producers, Italy and France, have acknowledged forecasts of high corn production after the crop experienced more positive weather than other grains in western Europe, according analysts and growers.


According to Reuters, strong results from well-advanced harvesting in the two countries have reinforced the prospect of bumper corn production in the EU this year, providing comfort for livestock farmers reliant on the feed grain and opening an export window for the EU amid tight global supply of corn.


In France, there was a growing consensus that the average yield in the 2011 harvest would be a record for the EU's top corn producer.


Grains institute Arvalis expects the national average to reach the 100 quintal (10 tonnes) per hectare mark, surpassing an existing record of 96.6 quintals set in 2007.


"The harvest is still going on so we need more results to have a firmer idea, but we are guaranteed of having a three-figure yield," said Jean-Paul Renoux, Arvalis' head of corn.


About 40% of the corn area in France has been harvested but this level could double this week as some farmers step up field work after delaying harvesting during a recent hot spell in order to reduce crop moisture and save on later drying costs, Renoux said.


France's farm ministry on Friday raised its estimate of this year's corn crop to 14.8 million tonnes as it revised up the average yield to 9.8 tonnes a hectare.


The crop had benefitted from summer rain, the ministry said stressing that corn would be the only cereal to see a production rise in France this year.


Corn output could rise further if livestock farmers choose not to use some area as corn fodder after the summer rain helped pastures grow, Renoux added, estimating this could bring as much as 500,000 tonnes in extra corn output.


A spring drought in France and elsewhere in western Europe dried up pastures and left farmers short of hay, while reducing the yield potential of crops like wheat and barley.


Italy was also heading for a big crop this year after farmers increased the planted area and generally favourable weather helped to boost yields, farmer groups estimate.


Italy's corn output could rise to 10.5-11.0 million tonnes this year from 8.6 million tonnes in 2010, according to their preliminary estimates provided by their biggest group, Coldiretti.


With harvesting coming to an end in major producing regions, corn prices on the Italian market keep falling. Corn dropped EUR10 (US$ 13.65) on the week to EUR189-190 (US$ 257.95- 259.31) a tonne for prompt delivery at a key weekly session of Bologna's grain bourse on October 6.


Overall EU corn output is expected to rise sharply, even if there are some doubts about final production levels in eastern countries like Hungary after summer heat.


EU grain trade lobby Coceral last week raised its outlook for the bloc's corn crop to 62.95 million tonnes, up about 10% from 57.24 million in 2010. Analysts Strategie Grains last month pegged the crop at 61.7 million tonnes, up 12% on its estimate of last year's harvest.