December 23, 2011


Germany overcomes bad start by lifting sowings



Germany farmers lifted their plantings by 3.2% to overcome a poor start to the autumn sowing season, raising prospect for a larger EU harvest next year.


Growers in the EU's second ranked grains producer sowed 5.52 million hectares with winter crops, a rise of more than 170,000 hectares on last year, defying ideas that a late harvest, caused by summer rains, would prevent many farms from realising sowing ambitions.


While the rains did stop farmers in northern Germany planting winter rapeseed, which tends to be early sown, with area in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein plunging 32%, a dry autumn, reflected in low Rhine and Danube water levels, allowed area to be switched to grains.


Indeed, Schleswig-Holstein farmers in the end managed a near 12% jump in winter crop area.


After two years of disappointing harvests, thanks largely to harvest rains, the data raised hopes for better production in 2012, as analysts foresee for the EU as a whole.


Strategie Grains last week estimated the EU grains harvest in 2012 at 289.6 million tonnes, a rise of 5.8 millon tonnes year on year, despite sowings estimated flat at 23.1 million hectares.


The rise in German winter plantings was led by rebounds in sowings of rye, up 8.5%, and barley, up 5.6%.


"The largest area expansions were recorded in Schleswig-Holstein, with a rise of about 26%, and in Brandenburg with a rise of about 13%," the German statitistics office, Destatis, said.


Wheat area was pegged at 3.2 million hectares, up 2.0% year on year.


Triticale was the only crop which proved less popular with growers, with even rapeseed area rising, by 1.3% to 1.3 million hectares, despite the poor conditions in the north.


"The largest percentage increases in area of winter rapeseed were recorded by Thuringia, with an increase of about 11%, and Brandenburg with a rise of 10%," Destatis said.


Germany has about 11.9 million hectares of arable area overall, with sileage corn and root crops among popular spring-seeded crops.


Land set aside has been on a steady decline, from 309,500 hectares in 2008 to 228,700 hectares last year.

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