EU wheat harvest upgrade exposes Romania debate

Uncertainty emerged over the size of Romania's wheat harvest as Coceral raised further the bar on forecasts for the European Union crop, hiking its estimate for the region's rapeseed harvest too.

The industry group estimated EU wheat production this year at 149.4m tonnes, up 5.71m tonnes from its previous estimate, in March, and rendering it a harvest second only to the 152m tonnes recorded in 2008.

Indeed, the Coceral forecast is above that from other commentators, such as Strategie Grains, which this week raised its estimate for the crop to 147.0m tonnes, while the US Department of Agriculture last week upgraded its figure to 146.25m tonnes.

Toepfer, the German-based trading house, also foresees a 147.0m-tonne harvest.

Separately on Friday, producers' group Copa-Cogeca pegged the crop at 147.4m tonnes.

Although Coceral failed to expand on the reasons behind its revision, the upgrade reflected an improvement of 6.0m tonnes, to 141.9m tonnes, in the forecast for the soft wheat harvest, with the forecast for durum, used to make pasta, downgraded a touch.

Improved estimates

Coceral's revision reflected in part upgrades to crops in France and Germany, the top two producing countries and, to a lesser extent, for the third-ranked UK crop.

Romania wheat harvest, (yield) forecasts

Coceral: 8.692m tonnes, (4.10 tonnes per hectare)

Copa-Cogeca: 7.079m tonnes, (3.54 tonnes per hectare)

EU Mars: n/a, (3.57 tonnes per hectare)

Toepfer: 8.268m tonnes, (n/a)

USDA: 7.60m tonnes, (3.65 tonnes per hectare)

The French crop was upgraded by 1.4m tonnes to 39.07m tonnes, including 37.67m tonnes of soft wheat, with the German harvest lifted by 1.5m tonnes to 25.55m tonnes.

However, the Romanian crop saw an even bigger upgrade, by 1.7m tonnes to 8.69m tonnes a figure more than 1m tonnes above, for example, the USDA estimate.

Coceral's estimate for the Romanian soft wheat yield of 4.10 tonnes per hectare is well above figures from the USDA, besides from Copa-Cogeca and the European Union's Mars crop monitoring unit this week.

Force in exports

Romania, while a relatively lowly-ranked producer, is closely watched as it exports a large part of its production, and at low prices which can pressure values in bigger exporting countries.

Gasc, the grain authority for Egypt, the world's top-ranked wheat importing country, bought more than 1.6m tonnes of Romanian wheat in 2013-14 at tender, more than from any other origin.

Analysis group Strategie Grains this week lifted its own estimate for the Romanian wheat yield, citing rains which had also raised quality risks, coming late in the growing season.

Mars, noting "favourable crop growth conditions", said that it could yet raise its Romania wheat yield forecast.

Rapeseed upgrade

Coceral raised too its estimate for the EU rapeseed harvest, the world's biggest, by 1.65m tonnes to 22.79m tonnes, a figure again above that of many other observers.

The USDA has the crop at 22.0m tonnes, and Toepfer at 22.29m tonnes.

Coceral upgraded the German crop, the EU's biggest, by a 500,000 tonnes to 5.94m tonnes, while lifting the forecast for the French harvest by 115,000 tonnes to 5.23m tonnes.

The UK harvest was pegged at 2.47m tonnes, an upgrade of 66,000 tonnes.

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