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Concerns rise over EU's 2020 rapeseed crop, as 2019 harvest downgraded


Concerns are kicking off over another disappointing European Union rapeseed harvest in 2020, amid dryness in the bloc’s top two producing countries, even as the latest crop received a further downgrade.


In France, the EU’s biggest rapeseed producer, “worries about rapeseed plantings are increasing”, Agritel said, flagging the “risk to see another cut in acreage”.


That could take area below the 1.14m hectares reported by France’s agriculture ministry for the latest harvest, a drop of 31% from 2018, and the smallest in 15 years.


The concerns reflect another rapeseed sowing window marred by dryness, with Agritel saying that the soil moisture “deficit is persisting in France”.

The rapeseed sowings window, in the late summer-early autumn, is earlier and narrower than that for many other winter crops, such as wheat.


‘Dryness continues’

Rain relief looks unlikely this week in France, or second-ranked grower Germany, meteorologists at Maxar said, noting a declining trend in conditions for corn.


“Showers should improve moisture in Poland and northern Italy while dryness continues in France, northern Germany, south east Europe,” the weather service said.


CRM AgriCommodities reported some French growers irrigating newly-planted rapeseed crops.


Harvest downgrade

The dryness concerns come as the EU is still grappling with the implications of a recently-finished 2019 harvest which Strategie Grains downgraded again on Monday, this time by 400,000 tonnes to a 13-year low of 17.0m tonnes.


The downgraded estimate, representing a drop of 3.0m tonnes year on year, will force the bloc to import a record 6.1m tonnes of rapeseed in 2019-20, the analysis group said, raising its forecast by 300,000 tonnes.


That would represent a sharp increase on the 4.3m tonnes imported in 2018-19, but buy-ins have already started apace.


For the first two months of 2019-20, as started in July, they totalled 1.07m tonnes, more than double the 464,523 tonnes for the same period of last season, European Commission data show.


Imports have come in the main from Ukraine, which enjoyed a strong harvest, from where EU purchases have totalled 877,001 tonnes so far this season, with Canada second on 115,985 tonnes.


‘Extremely tight supply’

Barry Howard, head of oilseeds at ADM Agriculture, said that “extremely tight supply and demand is still the main focus” of the EU rapeseed market.


“To put it into context, this year’s EU production, plus Ukraine’s record output is still less than last year’s EU total, whilst rapeseed crushing is forecast to remain at similar levels.”


Demand for rapeseed is being supported by “very strong” margins for biodiesel, the main source of demand for the crop in the EU


Rapeseed prices

The dynamics have fuelled a rally in Paris rapeseed futures, which for November touched E385.25 a tonne on Thursday, a 13-month high for a spot contract.


The contract stood at E382.50 a tonne in lunchtime deals on Monday, down 0.1% for the session, continuing to feel pressure from official data on Friday showing Canadian stocks of rapeseed variant canola higher than had been expected.


Statistics Canada reported stocks at 3.87m tonnes, up 55% year on year, and ahead of a market forecast of 3.8m tonnes.


Winnipeg canola futures for November - weighed also by Canada’s trade dispute with China, its top canola customer – stood down 0.8% at Can$439.30 a tonne.

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