World news Maize plantings in France are expected to jump by nearly 11% this year as farmers switch to spring crops after adverse weather hit sowing of winter varieties, the French farm ministry has said.
French farmers will sow 1.60 million hectares of grain maize, excluding crop grown for seeds, up 10.9% from 2019, the ministry said in its first estimate of this year's maize area.
The projected maize area would be 12.2% above the average of the past five years, the ministry added in a crop report.
'Rise In Spring Sowing'
"The rise in spring sowing partly compensates for the drop in area for winter cereals that were affected by waterlogged soils at sowing time, as well as the decline in the rapeseed area," it said.
The ministry also projected a sharp increase in area for sunflower, another spring-sown crop, with the area expected to reach 690,000 hectares, up 14.3% from last year and 18.9% above the five-year average.
It also made a slight upward revision to the area allocated to spring barley to 717,000 hectares from the 696,000 hectares seen last month. The new estimate is 12.2% higher than last year and 43.1% above the five-year mean.
The estimated total barley area, including winter crop, was stable compared with last month at 2.0 million hectares.
For soft wheat, France's most produced cereal, the ministry kept almost unchanged its estimate of this year's area at 4.62 million hectares, compared with the 4.63 million estimated last month, still 7.5% below the 2019 level.
Total projected cereal sowing was put at 9.26 million hectares, down 1.5% from last year.
Torrential rain during autumn disrupted sowing of wheat and winter barley, while earlier drilling of rapeseed, France's main oilseed crop, was hit by summer drought.
The farm ministry left little changed from last month its estimate of the 2020 rapeseed area at 1.09 million hectares, down 1.8% from last year and 24.3% below the five-year average.
A trend towards planting more soybeans was expected to continue, with the ministry forecasting the area would rise for the eighth year in a row to a record 171,000 hectares.
For sugar beet, it also kept almost unchanged its area estimate at 424,000 hectares, down 5% from last year, citing the impact of the planned closure of four sugar production plants in France.
The farm ministry is due to give its first production forecasts for the 2020 harvest next month, with estimates of winter barley and winter rapeseed output.