October 15, 2007


UK 2007 rapeseed crop disappoints, less to export



UK merchant Grainfarmers calls the 2007 UK rapeseed crop a disappointment after unfavourable weather cut yields.


This leaves only a small amount available for export, which will be quickly exported to other European Union nations due to strong demand for the crop.


But the company's seed sales point to less rapeseed acreage for the 2008 harvest as high wheat prices prompt a shift in acreage.


Grainfarmers estimates the 2007 UK rapeseed crop at 1.96 million tonnes. This down from Thursday's estimate by the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs of a 2.1-million-tonne crop, which was up from 1.89 million tonnes in 2006.


Grainfarmers said the harvest is disappointing after farmers had planted 17 percent more land to rapeseed and initial prospects had suggested well-above average yields.


"In late June we thought we'd have a bumper crop that was well ahead of last year, but lack of sunshine curtailed pod-fill," said Andrew Barnard, director of Grainfarmers' oilseeds and business development.


Poor harvesting conditions and localized flooding also limited output.


Barnard estimates this season's UK domestic rapeseed demand at about 1.75 million tonnes, with about 5 percent used in the UK biodiesel industry.


"This leaves a small exportable surplus," said Barnard. "But, with strong demand in nearby Germany, Holland and Belgium, any surplus will soon be exported."


Barnard added that the European Union's rapeseed crop of about 17.3 million tonnes will also fall short of early expectations for a 18.5-million-tonne crop.


"Around 40 percent of this will be used for bio-diesel, but this figure could rise if the German government's phased withdrawal of tax benefits for their industry is delayed," he said.


Germany's withdrawal of lower duty tax-breaks has seen some new plants operating at half capacity this season, said Barnard.


Still Grainfarmers foresees a 5 to 10 percent drop on the year rapeseed plantings as high wheat prices attract a shift in acreage.


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