EU wheat harvest speeds up, big French crop has good quality

European wheat harvesting is advancing rapidly and a decent crop is expected especially in top producer France, experts said. France’s wheat harvest is almost finished and good results from the far north reinforce expectations of a record size and better quality after rain damage last year.

In the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, one of the last harvested, work should be almost over this weekend barring rain, said farmer Luc Desbuquois, vice president of the regional agriculture agency. “It’s a very good crop that was harvested just when it was ripe and in dry conditions,” he said. “The impact of the heatwave was limited by the fact that plants were ahead of their usual growth.”

French consultancy Agritel estimates France’s soft wheat crop at 38.9 million tonnes and consultancy ODA at 39.4 million tonnes, over France’s record 38.2 million tonnes in 1998. In the second largest producer Germany, sunshine enabled rapid progress but rain this weekend could interrupt work.

“Wheat is expected to dry out quickly after the showers as high temperatures are forecast, so quality damage is not expected,” a German analyst said. “A good, average quality crop is expected although smaller than last year’s huge harvest.” Germany’s winter wheat crop will fall 8.3 percent on the year to 25.1 million tonnes, Germany’s farming association forecasts.

In the third largest producer Britain, harvesting started this week after rain caused delays. About 1 percent of Britain’s wheat area has been harvested, said the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). “The last week has certainly been a lot drier than the previous one, which has definitely helped things get moving,” said Helen Plant, senior analyst at AHDB. “It’s a bit later than usual but there’s still time for us to catch up.”

The International Grains Council forecasts Britain’s wheat crop at 15.3 million tonnes from 16.6 million tonnes in 2014. In the fourth largest producer Poland harvesting speeded up in hot, dry weather this week. “In the east, south-west, and south of the country, the regions where the wheat harvest is most advanced, winter wheat yields are higher than expected,” said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska. “The quality of grains delivered to procurement entities is better than last year. It seems that the proportion of milling wheat in the total wheat harvest will be higher than in 2014.” Sparks forecast this year’s wheat crop at 10.6 million tonnes, down 15 percent from 2014.

Copyright Reuters, 2015


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