German sowings support EU wheat hopes

German farmers are trying to take advantage of projected shortfalls in next year's wheat harvest as they increase their wheat sowings at the expense of rapeseed and rye.

 "Winter wheat remains by far the most important type of grain and is cultivated on 3.14m hectares of arable land for the next harvest in 2014," the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said.

 German growers had been expected to increase wheat sowings amid stronger demand as well as more favourable growing conditions after the 2012-13 season yielded a harvest of 22.5m tonnes despite cold February weather and a dry spring.

 Germany's wheat sowing will cover an area of some 3.137m hectares, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), an increase of 2.5% on the prior year.

 Despite the increase wheat price have seen steady trading sentiment with contracts for March delivery on the Paris futures exchange, Europe's benchmark, currently up 0.5% at E204.75 a tonne compared with an August low of E182 a tonne.

 Rye and rapeseed decline

Wheat production growth is expected across the EU for the 2014 harvest, according to most forecasters.  Influential consultancy group Strategie Grains recently forecast the soft wheat harvest in the EU to reach a five-year high of 138.0m tonnes, up 2.4% year on year.

 Despite the projected increase in wheat the extra sowings will come at the expense of other grains including barley, corn and rye, with overall grain area falling 400,000 hectares to 57.2m hectares.

 This forecast is reflected by the Destatis sowing figures, which indicate a 16.7% year on year drop in German rye sowings.

 "A decline in the acreage of fye and meslin can be observed in almost all provinces with the most pronounced declines in Rhineland-Palatinate (- 36%), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (- 29%), Hesse (- 25%) and Thuringia (- 24% )," reported Destatis. 

Rapeseed sowings have also declined this year, reflecting crop rotation as well as lower demand for biodiesel, with figures indicating domestic consumption has fall 15% year on year across the first three quarters 2013.