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EU rapeseed crop to rise, despite drop in sowings

The rapeseed harvest in the European Union, the top producer, will rise next year despite a small drop in sowings, Strategie Grains said, in a further fillip to hopes for world supplies of the oilseed.

The EU rapeseed harvest will rise 500,000 tonnes to 21.3m tonnes in 2014, the Paris-based analysis group said, representing the region's second-biggest harvest ever after the 21.6m tonnes achieved four years ago.

The increase comes despite expectations of a small drop, of some 100,000 hectares to 6.6m hectares, in plantings, with a stronger yield, of 3.2 tonnes per hectare, seen as more than making up for the decline.

It will be led by France, historically the EU's top rapeseed producer before being overtaken by Germany, which will see an 800,000-tonne rebound in output to 5.1m tonnes.

Separately, France's farm ministry estimated domestic rapeseed area for next year's harvest at 1.5m hectares, up 6.8% year on year.

Improved supplies

The increase in EU output means that the region's farmers look on course for strong harvests of its most important cereals and oilseed crops, wheat and rapeseed, next year, with sowings of the grain seen rising by about 4%.

However, the sunseed crop is expected to fall by some 500,000 tonnes to 8.2m tonnes, reflecting in particular declines in Bulgaria and Romania after unusually strong harvests this year.

The Strategie Grains estimate also adds to ideas of a recovery in world rapeseed supplies, after three successive seasons of production shortfalls drove world stocks at the close of 2012-13 to a nine-year low of 3.17m tonnes, on US Department of Agriculture estimates.

Last week, Statistics Canada stunned the market by hiking its forecast for the domestic harvest of canola, the rapeseed variant, this year by 2m tonnes to a record 18.0m tonnes, a far bigger number than investors had expected.

Australia raised its domestic crop forecast by 100,000 tonnes to 3.4m tonnes.

In India, a major vegetable oils importer, rapeseed acreage for the 2014 harvest is seen by the market as rising by 4.5% to some 7m hectares, helping output increase by 13% to 2.6m tonnes.

'Selling stepped up a gear'

In the markets, Paris rapeseed for February eased 0.3% to E373.25 a tonne for February delivery, as of 11:30 local time (10:30 UK time, 04:30 Chicago time).

Winnipeg canola for January was 0.3% higher at Can$473.20 a tonne, bouncing from a three-year closing low in the last session.

Indeed, the contract lost 1.9% on Friday.

At Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Luke Mathews said: "Canadian farmer selling reportedly stepped up a gear on Friday.

"And the market finally appears to recognise the importance of the current record large Canadian canola crop."

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