Return of dry weather 'crucial' for German wheat

The return of dry weather is "crucial" for the outcome of a German wheat harvest which has become increasingly important for Europe as a whole, in offering a source of high quality grain to offset rain-hit crops in the likes of France.

A dry period in mid-July, which allowed "rapid harvest progress", gave way last week to "frequent" rains", the Deutsche Bauernverband producers' group said.

Besides prompting "repeated harvest interruptions", the rainfall had led to lodging, the flatting of crops, making them difficult to harvest.

Furthermore, "because the rainfall, the moisture levels of cereal grains are too high", requiring "cost-intensive" drying to allow safe storage and limit quality damage.

'Weather is crucial'

The slower progress has meant that "the weather in coming days is crucial for the remainder of the winter wheat crop", which comprises the great majority of German wheat production.

"Only with persistent dry weather can winter wheat be harvested quickly and, above all, with the desired quality," the DBV said.

Rains, while a boost to growing crops, are a threat to ripe cereals, encouraging factors such as sprouting which reduce quality specifications, and lead to grains planted for milling or malting being downgraded to being mixed into feed.

The extent of harvest-time rains in Europe has raised the significance of the German crop, a source of large quantities of higher protein wheat, as a potential source of supplies to blend with and improve lower quality production elsewhere.

This is especially the case in France, where merchants are believed to have already imported large quantities of German, and Polish, wheat.

Rapeseed upgrade

On quantity, DBV said that wheat yield results "vary regionally very strongly", with eastern areas seeing above-average results, but western states such as North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Pflaz seeing results close to typical levels.

However, for rapeseed, which is harvested earlier than wheat, with more than two-thirds of the crop in the silo, the group nudged higher its estimate for German production 100,000 tonnes higher to 5.8m tonnes, citing a yield of 4.1 tonnes per hectare.

For winter barley, another early-harvested crop, DBV estimated production at some 9m tonnes, estimating an average yield of 7.3 tonnes per hectare, beating the strong result of 6.9 tonnes per hectare achieved last year.

'More rain than desired'

In fact, Europe's weather "will still generate a little more rain than desired for small grain and winter rapeseed harvest conditions", World Weather said on Wednesday, despite the prospect of a drier spell shorter term.

"There will be a break in the precipitation today into Friday from eastern France to Czech Republic before more rain falls during the weekend," the weather service said.

"The environment should be improved over that of the past two weeks, but there may still be more rain than desired to get this year's crops out of the fields without any further quality declines."

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