Germany’s wheat harvest may have been reduced by Europe’s heatwave, the Deutsche Bauernverband farmers’ group said, as it forecast a domestic grains harvest “just below average”.
Joachim Rukwied, president at the Deutsche Bauernverband, or DBV, said that “the extreme heat of the last week of June could have damaged winter wheat.
“Grain filling, which is important for yield, does not take place in times of high heat and a lack of water.”
The comments come as investors are attempting to gauge the impact on European Union crop prospects of temperatures last week which reached record levels in many countries, including in the bloc’s top grain-grower, France, where they set an all-time high of 45.9 Celsius (114.6 Fahrenheit).
Analysis group Agritel on Wednesday rated “the uncertainty about the yield of late European cereals exposed to the recent heat wave”, alongside worries over winter wheat yields in some parts of Russia, as key “elements of doubt” for grain markets.
Refinitiv, citing the heatwave, last week downgraded by 2.81m tonnes to 146.1m tonnes its forecast for the EU soft wheat harvest this year, with the durum crop estimate trimmed by 47,000 tonnes to 8.66m tonnes.
In Germany, the hot spell added to the “difficult conditions” that 2019-20 crops have grown in, Mr Rukwied said.
“The extreme dryness of the summer of 2018 lasted until the sowing of the winter cereal last autumn.
“The after effects of the drought are still clearly noticeable.”
While “rainfall and cool weather in May had a positive impact” on crop prospects overall, in some areas soil conditions “are still too dry, especially in eastern Germany”, he said, reporting that “considerable damage from dryness has been observed in some places”.
‘After effects of the drought’
The DBV estimated the overall German grains harvest at 46.82m tonnes, up 9m tonnes year on year, although still below the average for 2013-17 of 47.91m tonnes.
The winter wheat crop, which accounts for the vast majority of German wheat output was, pegged at 24.06m tonnes, up some 5m tonnes year on year, but below the 2013-17 average of 25.28m tonnes.
The estimate is a little below a 24.62m-tonne forecast last month from the DRV farm co-operatives association, with the DBV, at 7.92 tonnes per hectare, using a slightly lower yield figure.
The DBV pegged the German rapeseed crop at 3.06m tonnes – some 600,000 tonnes below the 2018 result, and 41% below the 2013-17 average of 5.17m tonnes.
The group said that German rapeseed “clearly shows the after effects of the drought in 2018”, being a relatively early-seeded crop, in late summer/early autumn, so suffering in particular from last year’s summer drought.
Restrictions on use of pesticides have also affected output, the DBV said, with many rapeseed growers citing the EU ban on use of neonicotinoid insecticides as a major setback to yields.