The European Union corn hopes received a double downgrade as Coceral slashed producton expectations, even as the official Mars bureau cautioned of the impact of dryness in many areas – and in Ukraine too.
Coceral, the Brussels-based industry group, downgraded by 2.19m tonnes to 64.60m tonnes its forecast for the EU corn harvest, taking the figure narrowly below last year’s result, despite extra sowings this year.
The estimate reflected marked cuts to expectations for both of the bloc’s big two producers, with the French harvest downgraded by 1.26m tonnes to 14.13m tonnes, and Romania’s by 900,000 tonnes to 11.93m tonnes.
The Romanian downgrade reflected a lower area estimate, with French one on a drop in yield too.
The estimate was well below forecasts from other commentators, with Strategie Grains, for instance, pegging the crop at 67.4m tonnes.
And it came as the European Commission’s Mars agrimeteorology bureau lowered its forecast for harvest results too, albeit to a yield of 8.01 tonnes per hectare - well above the 7.24 tonnes-per-hectare figure that Coceral is using.
Strategie Grains is pegging the yield at 7.4 tonnes per hectare.
Mars lowered its forecast for the French corn yield by 0.58 tonnes per hectare to 8.58 tonnes per hectare, with the Romanian one downgraded by 0.55 tonnes per hectare to 6.05 tonnes per hectare - in both cases taking the figures below 2019 levels, although remaining above respective five-year averages.
‘Large rain deficit’
Mars, saying that its “yield forecasts for almost all summer crops were revised downward” from last month, warned that “large parts of western and northern central Europe have been affected by a rain deficit since the beginning of July”.
And after an early August “heatwave… the combination of the limited water supply and high temperatures negatively affected summer crops, with expected yield reductions”.
In France, a “large rain deficit was observed during the review period, with very little significant rainfall” for most regions until mid-August, “when stormy weather brought substantial rainfall.
For Romanian, Mars reported that “after mid-July, summer crops started to experience water deficit, and evidence of early leaf senescence has appeared in the main producing southern and eastern regions”.
The bureau, which also monitors crop prospects in countries around the EU, also lowered its forecast for the Ukraine’s corn harvest, which is an important source of world export supplies.
An “extensive rain deficit has been recorded from Poland and southern Lithuania, to southern Russia, including Belarus and most of Ukraine”, Mars said.
While stored-up soil moisture has limited the setback to corn yield prospects so far, these have now run “low… and negative impacts on yield potentials can be expected if the rain deficit continues”.
For now, the Ukraine corn yield forecast was downgraded by 0.31 tonnes per hectare to 7.49 tonnes per hectare, taking it marginally below last year’s result, although remaining comfortable above the five-year average of 6.59 tonnes per hectare.
Wheat, rapeseed prospects
Coceral also trimmed its forecast for the EU plus UK soft wheat crop, by 574,000 tonnes to 129.12m tonnes.
Including durum, the forecast was cut by some 600,000 tonnes to 136.52, tonnes, a little above estimates from Strategie Grains and the USDA.
However, for rapeseed, Coceral raised its forecast for the EU plus UK harvest by 436,000 tonnes to 16.96m tonnes, taking it a fraction above last year’s harvest.
The upgrade came on increases to harvests in the likes of Lithuania and Poland, as well as Germany which - with a 3.41m-tonne harvest, lifted by 300,000 tonnes – was now seen overtaking France as the EU’s top producer of the oilseed.