EU on course for 'bumper' rapeseed, wheat harvests

Timely rain has put the European Union on course for a record rapeseed crop, besides raising expectations for the wheat harvest, US officials said, batting off concerns about dryness in Russia too.

The US Department of Agriculture lifted by 500,000 tonnes to 22.0m tonnes its forecast for rapeseed in the EU, the top producer of the oilseed.

The upgrade took the crop above the 21.63m tonnes grown in 2009-10, the current record season, and represents an 840,000-tonne increase over last season's result.

The upgrade reflected in the main an upgrade to output in central Europe, notably Germany and Poland, where rains last month had resolved dryness concerns.

"May precipitation occurred during the weight-determining pod-fill period," the USDA said.

Romania, albeit a relatively minor producer, has enjoyed "very favourable precipitation all season, and with satellite-derived vegetative indices supporting a bumper year", with the harvest forecast upgraded by 10,000 tonnes to 950,000 tonnes.

The UK crop, the EU's third biggest, was pegged at 2.5m tonnes, an upgrade of 100,000 tonnes.

'Bumper harvest'

Last month's rains boosted hopes too for the wheat harvest, which the USDA pegged at 146.3m tonnes, 1.4m tonnes higher than last month's estimate, and the third biggest ever.

"Favourable weather during May has increased expectations of a bumper harvest," the USDA said.

"During spring, dryness had become a concern in central Europe until above-average rainfall fell during May, improving soil moisture and boosting yield potential."

The report added that while cooler temperatures "have slowed plant development, crops remain about two weeks ahead of normal".

Black Sea divide

For nearby Russia, the USDA also raised expectations for the wheat harvest by 1.0m tonnes to 53.0m tonnes, saying that "favourable growing conditions support higher expected yields".

The comments contrasts with a caution from Ikar, the Moscow-based consultancy, on Tuesday over dryness in the Volga Valley region, although its forecast for the wheat harvest, of 52m-53m tonnes, is in line with the USDA's.

However, to the south of the Black Sea, Turkey has failed to avoid damage from dryness, with its barley harvest downgraded by 1.8m tonnes to 4.0m tonnes a plunge of 45% year on year, and the smallest crop in 40 years.

"Dry conditions persisted throughout the season in the GAP, Cukurova and Central Anatolia winter grains regions," the department said.

"In addition, a cold snap in the Central Anatolia region during early April at flowering was severe enough to also cause additional damage."

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