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France hikes sugar beet hopes, upgrading corn, wheat, rapeseed crops too

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France hiked its forecast for its sugar beet crop to by far the biggest on data going back 25 years, as it lifted, again, its expectations for the grains harvest too, as crops overcame the country's latest weather test.

The French farm ministry hiked by nearly 1.5m tonnes, to 41.93m tonnes, its forecast for the country's sugar beet harvest.

The upgrade, which took the crop nearly 6.3m tonnes above last year's result, reflected expectations that output would be boosted by a higher yield, besides the jump in sowings previously reported, and prompted by the removal of European Union production quotas.

The French sugar beet yield was pegged at 895.0 tonnes per hectare, up 37.1 tonnes per hectare from the previous estimate which was in line with the 2016 result.

However, that would remain well below the 969 tonnes-per-hectare yield achieved in 2011, when output hit 38.11m tonnes, the current high on data going back 24 years.

Corn, wheat,rapeseed upgrades

The ministry flagged high late-August temperatures which had raised fears "of negative impacts" on autumn-harvested crops - and followed earlier tests for crops including a June heatwaves, and early-July rains which had threatened the quality of summer-harvested crops.

However, the August heat appeared not to have affected yields, the ministry said, raising too its forecast for French corn output this year by 291,000 tonnes to 13.04m tonnes - although adding that as the harvest had only just begun, this estimate was subject to review.

Among summer-harvested crops, the ministry raised by 149,000 tonnes to 37.94m tonnes its estimate of the French soft wheat harvest, nudging higher its yield figure, and flagging that while the July rainfall had damaged crop in some areas, overall the harvest was "of good quality".

The rapeseed harvest estimate was upgraded by 320,000 tonnes to 5.51m tonnes, "close to the record of 2009". "Climatic conditions did not significantly affect production," the ministry said.

By Mike Verdin

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