KTG underlines Germany's improved crop prospects

KTG Agrar, the German-based farm operator, said that it was heading "optimistically" towards harvest, chiming with the country's improved crop prospects highlighted by the US Department of Agriculture and domestic co-operatives.

KTG Agrar said that plant condition promised "an above-average harvest" from its 50,000 hectares of crops, from winter peas to organic soybeans, mainly in Germany, but with some holdings in Lithuania and Romania too.

The group had also continued a strategy of selling large amounts of crop ahead, with 50% of its anticipated output already prices, allowing it to minimise deals over the summer, when the ramp up in supplies and withdrawal of the last weather premium tends to weigh on values.

Siegfried Hofreiter, the group's chief executive, said: "As we pre-sell our produce in the first months of the year… we can concentrate on fieldwork in the summer, when agricultural prices tend to decline," with KTG poised to "sell the second part [of its production] in the winter."

The group stuck by a forecast of 2014 revenues of "clearly" over E200m, with next year's revenues seen hitting E250m, with "stable" operating profit margins.

'Above average'

The comments come the day after the US Department of Agriculture lifted its forecasts for European Union wheat and rapeseed harvests, citing in particular improved prospects in Germany and Poland, where rains last month had come just in time to resolve a growing threat from dryness.

The forecast for Germany's rapeseed crop was raised by 100,000 tonnes to 5.58m tonnes, with the wheat harvest upgraded by 320,000 tonnes to 24.30m tonnes.

Meanwhile, Germany's Raiffeisenverband (DRV) farm co-operatives group raised by 700,000 tonnes to an "above average" 48.3m tonnes its forecast for the overall grains crop this year, ditching ideas of a decline from last year's 47.8m tonnes.

The group, citing "favourable weather conditions" lifted its forecast for wheat production to 25.5m tonnes, above a May estimate of 24.94m tonnes.

That includes 25.1m tonnes of winter wheat, above the 24.6m tonnes the DRV forecast last month.

The rapeseed crop was upgraded by 300,000 tonnes to 5.9m tonnes.

The DRV added that the development of cereal and oilseed crops was about two weeks ahead of average.

* Separately on Thursday, French farm bureau FranceAgriMer lifted its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union in 2013-14 by some 400,000 tonnes to 12.0m tonnes.

That represents a 21% rise year on year, and will sap wheat stocks at the close of the season, this month, to 2.8m tonnes, 300,000 tonnes less than previously expected.

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