Rapeseed sowings in the European Union, the world’s top grower, will hold steady for 2018, despite the prospect of drops in Germany and Poland, two of the bloc’s largest producers of the oilseed.
The International Grains Council, in its first forecasts for EU rapeseed sowings for next year’s harvest, said they were “projected to stay close” to the 6.7m hectares seeded for this year’s.
In fact, there was incentive for them to increase, “thanks to rotational requirements and attractive prices relative to common wheat at the time of seeding”.
However, “the potential for area gains was thwarted by difficult weather conditions” during the planting window, which is a little earlier for rapeseed than winter grains such as wheat.
The council’s forecast compares with an estimate from Strategie Grains of EU rapeseed sowings of 6.64m hectares for the 2018 harvest, a drop of 90,000 hectares on its data.
The weather setbacks included “drought in south-eastern parts” of the EU, and “excessive rains in northern Europe, notably Germany”, the bloc’s second ranked rapeseed-growing country.
Here, sowings were pegged down 5% year on year, at 1.3m hectares.
“Plantings of spring alternatives, including barley, could rise as a consequence,” the council said.
In neighbouring Poland, the EU’s third-ranked grower, sowings were pegged down 10% year on year at some 800,000 hectares, “after autumn precipitation impeded farmers’ operations”.
French, UK prospects
However, the council added that area in France, the EU’s biggest rapeseed producer, “could be slightly larger year on year”, flagging too reports that “fields are in good condition heading into winter”.
For the fourth-ranked UK, the IGC flagged that prospects for a recovery of sowings from their lowest levels since 2004 “appear limited, after the sustained falls of recent years”.
Growers are “cautious about boosting area to due potential production failures”.
Although UK rapeseed growers enjoyed a 23% rise in output this year, to 2.2m tonnes, according to official estimates, bolstered by a record yield, there is continued talk of the threat from cabbage stem flea beetle, which growers have found difficult to control since the ban on neonicotinoid insecticides.
‘Ahead of schedule’
The council added that, in the former Soviet Union, Ukraine sowings would maintain their recovery from lows reached after a series of crop damaged by harsh winters.
Ukraine growers ware expected to harvest 805,000 hectares of rapeseed in 2018, a rise of 27,000 hectares year on year, and the most since 2014.
Farmers had enjoyed “mostly beneficial dry weather”, meaning winter plantings of “were mostly done ahead of schedule by early October”.
Ukraine is a major rapeseed exporter to the EU.