Strategie Grains nudged higher its forecast for the European
Union soft wheat harvest – but cautioned that the upgrade disguised mixed results,
on quality as well as yield.
The Paris-based analysis group raised by 300,000 tonnes to
141.0m tonnes its estimate of this year EU soft wheat harvest, the world's
biggest, taking to 5.1m tonnes the rise expected from the rain-depleted 2016
However, the upgrade masked something of a divide between results
in northern and western countries, where harvest results have disappointed,
while exceeding expectations further south and east.
Indeed, Strategie Grains lowered by a combined 1.8m tonnes
its estimates for harvests in the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Spain and
However, that downgrade was more than offset by a 2.1m-tonne
uplift to the aggregate production estimate for crops in Bulgaria, Estonia, France,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Yield results "are good to excellent in south east Europe
but disappointing in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia", the group said.
And this divide was reflected in quality too, for which "values
are good overall in south east Europe and France.
"But quality has degraded due to the recent rains in Germany
and the central European countries."
The findings tally with other reports, with FranceAgriMer
earlier this week reporting that French soft crop, the EU's biggest, "will meet
market needs" despite late rains which had spurred inconsistency in specific
weight, a key milling measure.
In fact, some areas had reported "very high" specific
weights, while protein levels were often above 12%, and Hagberg falling numbers
meeting quality thresholds, the official French ag bureau said.
For summer-harvested cereals overall, "thanks to a dry and
sunny climate at the time of the grain-filling period, the specific weights are
very high for the most part and superior in all cases to the minimum requirements",
While weather tests, such as dryness and late spring frost, had
"raised concerns and constrained the yield potential of all crops, they have
also limited pest pressures".
By contrast, German concerns were highlighted separately on
Thursday by Agritel, which said that "rains are still delaying the harvest, and
the quality degradation is increasing".
Indeed, US broker CHS Hedging flagged "rising concerns" over
German wheat quality "as 1-3 inches of rain could fall in the next three days
over an area that has already seen an abundance of precipitation".
Meanwhile, in the UK, CRM AgriCommodities cautioned that rains
were causing "serious concerns for UK wheat quality".
"Relentless rains continue to fall on ripe crops across much
of the UK as harvest stalls once again," the analysis group said.
"Quality, as a result, is deteriorating and buyers are starting
to increase the premium which they are paying pay for higher-spec grains."