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Coceral upgrades 2017 EU rapeseed harvest, as hope rise for 2018

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Coceral lifted the bar on estimates for the newly-finished European Union rapeseed harvest, putting it at a three-year high, amid ideas that output could rise even further in 2018, lifted by increased sowings.

The industry group pegged this year's EU rapeseed harvest, the world's biggest, at 22.11m tonnes, an upgrade of 630,000 tonnes from its previous estimate, and representing a rise of 1.56m tonnes year on year, largely thanks to raised seedings.

The revision took the Coceral estimate above those of other commentators, including Strategie Grains, which earlier this month cut its forecast for the crop by 260,000 tonnes to 21.65m tonnes, as "sharp downward revisions" to hopes for German production more than offset increased figures for crops in the likes of France.

The International Grains Council pegs the harvest at 21.8m tonnes, and the US Department of Agriculture at 21.95m tonnes, while the European Commission sees production at 21.86m tonnes.

French, UK upgrades

However, Coceral proved more upbeat than some other commentators over the French harvest, pegging it at 5.48m tonnes, on a yield of 3.75 tonnes per hectare – a figure in line with the country's official estimate, but ahead of, for example, the 5.2m-tonne crop seen by the IGC.

The European Commission's Mars agricultural meteorology unit earlier this week pegged the French rapeseed yield at 3.65 tonnes per hectare.

Coceral upgraded its estimate for the UK crop by 220,000 tonnes to 2.17m tonnes, largely on expectations of the yield soaring 25% to 3.84 tonnes per hectare this year – the highest of any EU country.

Again, this was above the Mars estimate, of 3.41 tonnes per hectare.

German downgrade

But for Germany, Coceral lowered its harvest estimate by 550,000 tonnes to 4.35m tonnes, taking it below last year's result, and reflecting a 12% cut to 3.31 tonnes per hectare in the yield estimate.

The downgrade, which followed persistent summer rains, also took the Coceral yield estimate below Mars' 3.59 tonnes-per-hectare figure.

The estimate for the Polish harvest was trimmed too, to 2.70m tonnes, also reflecting a reduced yield figure.

Rapeseed sowings to rise

The idea of a larger-than-thought 2017 production comes amid growing ideas that farmers may be preparing to sow more of the crop for next year's harvest, which first reported two weeks ago.

"Plantings of rapeseed across the EU are expected to rise this season due to the favourable price relative to wheat," UK-based CRM AgriCommodities said.

Agritel said that "acreage of rapeseed in Europe for next season is expected to be higher".

In the US, broker CHS Hedging also noted that "European farmers are expecting to plant more rapeseed for the 2018 harvest amid low grain prices".

Key price ratio

The ratio of Paris-traded soft wheat futures for December to rapeseed futures for November, for 2018 contracts, stood at 2.02 on Thursday, above the long-term average of a little over 1.90 for the time of year, suggest relatively richer rewards for sowing the oilseed.

However, the ratio was below the 2.06 figure at the start of the month.

Coceral pegged the EU soft wheat harvest this year at 142.14m tonnes, an upgrade of some 150,000 tonnes, within the range of forecasts from other commentators.

Strategie Grains sees the crop at 142.5m tonnes, the European Commission at 139.36m tonnes, and the IGC at 139.5m tonnes.

By Mike Verdin

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