Strategie Grains Cuts EU Wheat, Barley Crop Forecasts On Dry Weather
Dry conditions have worsened prospects for this summer's wheat and barley harvests in the European Union, crop consultancy Strategie Grains said as it cut production forecasts for both cereals.
In a monthly cereal report published on Thursday, the French firm reduced its projection of EU soft wheat production in the upcoming 2019/20 season to 144.8 million tonnes from 146.1 million forecast in March.
That would nonetheless be 14% above last year's drought-hit EU wheat harvest.
For barley, expected production in 2019/20 was cut to 61.0 million tonnes from 61.8 million, still 9% above the 2018/19 crop.
"Harvest outlooks in the EU have deteriorated somewhat due to dry weather in March and despite the arrival of rain in April (essentially in Spain and the southeast EU countries)," Strategie Grains said in its report.
"But they nevertheless remain good, with much higher expected production than in 2018," it added.
A swathe of southern Europe has faced particularly dry conditions since last autumn's sowing season.
In France, the EU's biggest grain producer, below-average rainfall in much of the country has raised concern about low moisture levels after last year's drought and as crops enter key spring growth stages.
Latest crop ratings from farming agency FranceAgriMer estimated 84% of French soft wheat to be in good or excellent condition by 1 April, down slightly from a week earlier.
The expected increase in wheat and barley production was seen leading to higher animal feed and export demand for both cereals next season, Strategie Grains said.
Wheat and barley were expected to become more competitive against maize as a feed ingredient, while also being able to capture more rising overseas demand, it said.
For maize, Strategie Grains left its 2019/20 EU production forecast almost unchanged at 63.1 million tonnes, a 2% increase on 2018/19.
The prospect of greater wheat and barley use in livestock feed will likely push down EU maize imports from a record volume expected this season, it said.