The European Union grains harvest will recover sharply this year,
but not quite as fast as some other observers expect, held back "excessive
precipitation" in the UK.
The European Commission, in its first forecast for 2013-14,
pegged the EU grains harvest at afour-year high of 291.1m tonnes.
While up 18.8m tonnes on last season's result - including a
boost from the accession to the EU of Croatia, which typically has a harvest of
roughly 3m tonnes – the figure is 1.6m tonnes below the latest estimate from
Strategie Grains, the influential analysis group.
And it would limit to 3.1m tonnes the rebuild in stocks over
the season, again a figure including Croatia.
'More wheat sowings'
The production figure includes a rise to 131.1m tonnes in the
soft wheat harvest, a little shy of the 132.2m tonnes that Strategie Grains
"The maintenance of prices at a high level on the world
market since June has encouraged farmers to sow more wheat," the commission
said, adding that "no major damage due to freezing is reported so far".
Commission estimates for EU 2013-14 grains, and (2012-13 figure)
Production: 291.1m tonnes, (272.3m tonnes)
Imports from outside EU: 12.9m tonnes, (16.4m tonnes)
Exports outside EU: 25.7m tonnes, (23.3m tonnes)
Feed use: 165.5m tonnes, (163.0m tonnes)
Industrial use: 31.2m tonnes, (30.7m tonnes)
Human consumption: 66.7m tonnes, (65.7m tonnes)
Year-end stocks: 34.2m tonnes. (31.1m tonnes)
2012-13 data include Croatia, which 2011-12 data do not
However - in comments made minutes before the release of a downbeat Adas report on UK crops - it also flagged the impact of "excessive precipitation"
in hampering UK farmers, echoing analysis earlier in the week from the commission's
Mars agricultural meteorological unit.
The commission's estimate for the soft wheat yield, at 5.1
tonnes per hectare, was lower than the 5.6 tonnes per hectare that Strategie
Grains has factored in.
Mars said that "the above-average rainfall in England [from
mid-January to mid-February] added to the overly-wet weather conditions
experienced in 2012, leading to an almost-continuous saturated soil moisture
content since the summer that now threatens the future development of winter
wheat and rapeseed.
"The above-average precipitation may also have a negative
effect on winter crops in France."
The UK is the EU's third-ranked wheat producer, and France the
Strategie Grains has forecast the UK crop falling to 12.4m
tonnes, the lowest for at least a decade, with many observers believing even
that estimate is too large, given the extent of disruption to autumn sowings.
Separately on Friday, FranceAgriMer, the French crop bureau, estimated that 66% of the country's soft wheat crop was in "good" or "excellent" condition, compared with 70% a year before.
Barley and durum
The commission was also more downbeat on hopes for barley
production, by 500,000 tonnes, than Strategie Grains, forecasting the crop at
54.6m tonnes, including Croatia.
However, it was more upbeat on corn, rye and, in particular, durum, the pasta wheat, for which it pegged the harvest at 9.0m tonnes, 700,000 tonnes above the Strategie Grains forecast.