Industry group Coceral highlighted an east-west divide in the
fortunes of European cereals and rapeseed growers, even as agronomists
cautioned that UK crops still face trial by "high disease pressure".
Coceral lifted estimates for soft wheat and rapeseed
harvests in the big western European Union producers, France, Germany and the
UK, where rain assuaged the drought fears alive when the last estimates were
released, in March.
The French soft wheat harvest, the EU's biggest, was
upgraded by 1.1m tonnes to 35.2m tonnes, putting it well ahead of last year's
result, with Germany's crop now seen showing a small improvement too.
However, the gains were more than offset by reduced estimates
for harvests in eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Poland and
Romania, to where dryness concerns shifted over the spring, and which suffered
higher rates of cold damage to winter crops than initially thought.
Resown with corn
The Brussels-based group cut its forecast for the Polish soft
wheat harvest by nearly 1.5m tonnes to 7.6m tonnes, and its estimate for the
Hungarian crop by 500,000 tonnes to 4.2m tones.
The overall wheat crop was pegged at 125.7m tonnes, a drop
of 1.0m tonnes on the previous estimate, and a decline of 3.8m tonnes on the 2011
However, the estimate is nonetheless higher than that of
some other analysts, such as Strategie Grains, which two weeks ago pegged the
crop at 124.2m tonnes.
And Coceral nudged its forecast for the overall grains crop
900,000 tonnes higher to 281.8m tonnes thanks to a hike in prospects for corn, particularly
in eastern Europe, where farmers have expanded sowings onto fields where winter
grains were decimated by frost damage.
Start of harvest
The data comes at a key point in the crop year, with harvest
data coming in from southern Europe, where weak results in drought-hit Spain
have been followed by more promising findings in France.
"The barley harvest has been advancing across France and has
now reached central France with good yields being reported," traders at a major
European merchant reported.
"The wheat harvest, however, is being delayed by some wet
Meanwhile, more northerly crops, such as those in the UK,
are undertaking the important grain-fill period.
'Very rough in appearance'
Indeed, in the UK, consultancy Adas said that weather in the
next month "will be critical" for wheat crops, which are also being pressed by "high
disease pressure" thanks to fungal infections encouraged by heavy rains.
"There have been some areas of the country in which a
typical month's rain has effectively fall in one or two days," Adas said,
adding that most areas have averaged two-to-three times average levels this
"Disease pressure in wheat is higher this season than it has
been for a number of years."
The rains have also lodged, or flattened, crops,
"Almost half of oilseed rape crops have been affected by
some degree of lodging which may affect ripening and increase harvest losses,"
"Many crops are looking very rough in appearance with some
areas severely affected."