Spring barley sowing accelerated in France last week, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday, suggesting dry weather helped farmers catch up on field work after recent rain delays.
Farmers had sown 72% of the expected area by March 23, compared with 40% a week earlier, FranceAgriMer's weekly cereal crop report showed.
Progress still lagged the very brisk pace seen last year, when 97% of the area had been drilled by the same week, and was also running four days behind the average sowing pace of the past five years, FranceAgriMer's data showed.
Only 6% of the spring barley area had been sown in the previous three weeks as soggy field conditions held up work.
Dry Spell Boosts Sowing
Analysts had expected last week's dry spell to boost the sowing pace, and continuing dry weather this week could help farmers round off spring barley drillings.
However, analysts are also monitoring the impact of widespread frosts this week, which may have damaged some young spring barley plants as well as earlier-sown crops resuming their growth cycle after winter.
The condition of soft wheat, France's main cereal crop, was stable in the week to 23 March, with 63% of plants rated good or excellent, unchanged from a week earlier, FranceAgriMer said.
The score remained well below a year-earlier rating of 85%.
The winter barley good/excellent rating increased slightly to 63% from 62%, but also trailed a year-earlier score of 81%.