The process of putting numbers on Europe's crop production
losses to cold and dry weather began in earnest as Strategie Grains cuts its
grains harvest forecasts, with German prospects getting a separate downgrade by
the DRV too.
Strategie Grains cut its forecasts for the European Union
harvests of all major grains, after marked frosts in major growing countries
such as France, Germany and Poland in April, when winter crops, having emerged
from dormancy, are more vulnerable to cold temperatures.
Dryness too had curtailed yield prospects in France, the UK
and Belgium, while proving a significant setback in Spain.
The influential analysis group cut its estimate for the overall
EU grains harvest by 3.6m tonnes to 301.6m tonnes, which would still represent
a rise of 4.5m tonnes year on year, but take it further behind 2015's bumper
The downgrade reflected in part a 1.1m-tonne cut to 142.7m
tonnes in the estimate for the EU soft wheat harvest, the world's biggest,
although Strategie Grains underlined that this forecast was open yet to revision.
"That figure could change… because the impact of the
drought and cold spells the crops were subjected to is still difficult to
assess accurately," the group said, while also trimming expectations for EU
soft wheat exports in 2017-18 by 200,000 tonnes to 26.0m tonnes.
The biggest harvest downgrade came to the estimate for
barley output, which was reduced by 1.7m tonnes to a multi-year low of 59.6m
A figure at this level from the world's top barley grower,
with the EU responsible for some 40% of global output, underlines the potential
for a squeeze on global inventories, which the US Department of Agriculture sees
ending 2017-18 at a 34-year low.
Strategie Grains made smaller reductions to its forecasts
for EU output of corn, downgraded by 300,000 tonnes to 60.1m tonnes, and of
durum wheat, for which the harvest estimate was also reduce by 300,000 tonnes,
to 8.6m tonnes.
'Still too dry'
Separately, Deutsche Raiffeisenverband (DRV), the German association
of farm co-operatives, cut its forecasts for the domestic grains harvest by 1.24m
tonnes to 45.45m tonnes – taking below 190,000 tonnes the forecast rise in
output above last year's "disappointing" result.
The downgrade reflected a 100,000-hectare cut to 6.26m
hectares in sowings, besides some reduction in yield expectations.
While rains in recent weeks had provided some comfort, "it
is still too dry in many regions", the DRV said.
Meanwhile, "cool weather with considerable night frosts" has
setbacks crops after a spell of good weather in the run-up to Easter, besides
delaying sowings of corn, for which the association slashed its forecast for
Germany's harvest by 744,000 tonnes to 3.74m tonnes.
Germany's wheat harvest, the European Union's second
biggest, was pegged at 24.99m tonnes, a downgrade of 260,000 tonnes on last
month's forecast, but still up 400,000 tonnes year on year.
And the DRV also downgraded its forecast for the country's
rapeseed crop, to 4.7m tonnes, and a figure not included in the overall grains data.
"This result only slightly exceeds the disappointing previous
year's figure of 4.6m tonnes.
"Rapeseed has suffered from night frosts in various regions,"
the association said, adding that harvest results were "still dependent" on crops
gaining adequate rainfall.