October 27, 2011


France to produce 16 million tonnes of corn



With an estimated record corn yield of between 10.4 and 10.5 tonnes per hectare, France is expected to harvest about 16 million tonnes of corn this year, corn growers group AGPM said Wednesday (Oct 26).


The expected average yield would pass a previous record of 9.7 tonnes a hectare in 2007/08 as estimated by French farm office FranceAgriMer.


AGPM's estimate of this year's corn grain production was based on an estimated area of 1.5 million hectares, the group said.


But the level of transfers from corn fodder to corn grain, currently evaluated at around 50,000 hectares, will likely raise the final crop to above 16 million tonnes, Jean-Paul Renoux, head of corn at Arvalis, told Reuters.


"It is now clear that taking into account of the transfer from corn fodder to grain corn, we will be above 16 million tonnes. It could reach around 16.2 million or even 16.3 million in total," he said.


Observers have been predicting a bumper corn harvest in France after favourable weather and early sowings this year, with grains institute Arvalis already forecasting last month a record average yield around 10 tonnes a hectare.


If output reached 16 million tonnes, it would also mark a highest level since 2004, according to FranceAgriMer data.


"The year 2011 will be a landmark year for corn. With a few exceptions, the weather context, techniques used by farmers and genetic progress supported record results," AGPM said.


While other grains in France suffered from a spring drought, corn plants emerged largely unscathed and subsequently benefited from regular summer rain.


Corn is estimated to be the only cereal crop in France to see a rise in production this year, according to the farm ministry.


FranceAgriMer this month estimated the 2011 corn crop at 14.75 million tonnes while the farm ministry put it at 14.9 million tonnes, although FranceAgriMer does not include so-called corn cob mix.


Other EU countries are also on course for large corn crops this year and French-based analyst Strategie Grains last week sharply raised its forecast of EU-wide production to put it up 15% versus 2010.


The big corn harvest could allow France to achieve a record level of exports outside the EU this season, AGPM said.


FranceAgriMer currently sees French non-EU corn exports at 500,000 tonnes in 2011/12, against 100,000 tonnes last season, which would be the highest volume in at least 10 years.


"This figure still has a strong potential to rise. If supply permits, exports outside the EU could reach one million tonnes," AGPM said.


High prices in the US, the world's top corn producer and exporter, has created export opportunities for the EU, with French corn sales in north Africa and traders talking of possible deals in Asia.

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