The drought which has driven Romania's corn harvest down 40%
is presenting risks to 2013 harvests too, hampering farmers making autumn
sowings, and fuelling a drop of nearly one-half in rapeseed plantings.
Rains last month had fostered a "fair improvement" in soil
moisture levels in Romania, after a drought which has cut the corn crop in the
country, typically one of the world's top-10 producers, well below last year's
10.5m tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Bucharest said.
The bureau estimated this year's Romanian corn harvest at 6.1m
tonnes, 200,000 tonnes below the official USDA forecast, and the International
Grains Council's 6.5m-tonne figure.
However, the rainfall had come far from neutralising the impact
of the drought, which also left Danube river levels "critically low" for much
of the summer, and has prompted a drop of some 25% in sunflower output.
'Very difficult and
"The long-awaited precipitation was insufficient to replace
depleted soil moisture levels," the bureau said, noting that levels were "notably
under" those a year ago.
The residual dryness means that "farmers in many regions are
finding it very difficult and costly to sow winter crops - rapeseed, wheat and
barley" during the autumn seeding windows for crops to be harvested in 2013.
Growers were undertaking measures such as minimum tillage, which
in limiting topsoil disturbance cuts moisture loss, to boost hopes of viable
They were also turning to spring sowings in the hope of improved
soil conditions by then, and of avoiding the frost risk which effected autumn-sown
crops last winter.
Slump in exports
Indeed, rapeseed sowings are seen tumbling by 45%, after "harsh"
winter conditions left growers reseeding nearly three-quarters of the oilseed
planted last autumn.
"Given the diminished supply, exports are unlikely to exceed
15% of last year's volume of 600,000 tonnes," and indeed leave domestic crushers
relying increasingly on imports.
In wheat, of which Romania is a notable exporter, sowings
are expected to remain in line with last year's, at 1.9m hectares, with recent
rains improving prospects for germination.