French wheat is in the best shape in at least five years and farmers have planted more acreage than anytime in the past six decades – evidence that the global glut will probably get even bigger.
About 94 per cent of the crop was in good or very good condition as of Monday, the best condition for mid-February since at least 2011, according to FranceAgriMer. That compares with 98 per cent getting top marks in November and is up from 92 per cent a year earlier.
The quality of the crop is another indication that the country’s wheat harvest may climb to a record for the second year. Milling-wheat prices in Paris have slumped 21 per cent this season as bumper crops worldwide hampered exporters’ efforts to unload grain and filled silos. Stockpiles in June, when the season ends, may more than double from a year earlier, according to FranceAgriMer.
"Spring will determine the final yield," Paul Gaffet, an analyst at farm adviser Offre & Demande Agricole, wrote in an e- mail before the crop report. "The enormous area creates a potential for production that is 500,000 tons higher than last year."
Weather in June will be key the size of the harvest, with conditions that are too hot or too rainy potentially pushing production below last year, according to Remi Haquin, president of the cereals council at FranceAgriMer. However, with favorable weather for wheat, production "could go through the roof," he said.
Farmers seeded 5.2 million hectares (12.8 million acres) of soft wheat for harvesting in 2016, up 1.1 per cent from last year and the most since at least 1955, based on data from the Agriculture Ministry.
In the Picardy region, which accounted for about 13 per cent of French soft-wheat production last year, the entire wheat crop was in good or very good condition, the Cere’obs data showed. In Centre, which had a similar share of the 2015 crop, 93 per cent got top ratings.
Should wheat yields remain stable from a year ago at 7.93 metric tons per hectare, France’s farmers could harvest about 41.3 million tons of the grain, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the planted area.
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