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Rain-Hit French Soft Wheat Sowing Nears End As Crop Rating Slips

By Reuters
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Rain-Hit French Soft Wheat Sowing Nears End As Crop Rating Slips

French farmers had sown 89% of the expected soft wheat area for next year's harvest by 4 December, compared with 83% a week earlier, as a rain-delayed sowing campaign edged towards a close, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed.

The soft wheat sowing pace lagged 99% progress a year earlier and a 96% average for the same period over the past five years, FranceAgriMer said in a cereal crop report.

France, the European Union's biggest grain producer, had record rainfall between mid-October and mid-November. While precipitation has since eased, regular showers have kept fields waterlogged in parts of western and northern France.

Soggy conditions have also affected the state of emerged crops. FranceAgriMer's rating of soft wheat crops dropped again, with 77% rated good or excellent by 4 December, against 80% the previous week.

Autumn Sowing

The score was the lowest for the period since 2019, when heavy rain also disrupted autumn sowing and reduced the winter cereals harvest the following year.

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The agriculture ministry is due to publish on Tuesday (12 December) a first estimate of the area sown with winter crops for the 2024 harvest.

Winter barley sowing was 94% complete by Monday, compared with 92% the previous week and a five-year average of 98%.

The good/excellent rating for winter barley crops declined to 81% from 82% last week, also a four-year low for the period, FranceAgriMer's data showed.

Durum wheat was showing the biggest lag in sowing progress, with 54% of the expected area drilled against a five-year average of 79%.

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For spring barley, mainly sown at the end of winter but which can be planted earlier, sowing progress had reached 10%, in line with the five-year average.

This week's crop report is FranceAgriMer's last of 2023, with the publications to resume in early February.

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