Coceral joined commentators expecting a small drop in European Union wheat output this year, undermined by falling sowings – although Societe Generale issued a more upbeat harvest forecast.
The industry group, issuing its first forecast for the 2018-19 soft wheat harvest in the EU, the world’s biggest producer, pegged it at 140.53m tonnes, a decline of 1.02m tonnes year on year.
The forecast reflected an expectation of a drop in sowings to a multi-year low of 23.16m hectares, offset in part by a rise in the yield of 0.8 tonnes per hectare to 6.07 tonnes per hectare.
In fact, the EU’s big three producers, France, Germany and the UK, were seen reaping harvests within 35,000 tonnes of last year’s crop, with the lower production forecast largely down to a forecast drop in output in Denmark.
There, the soft wheat crop was pegged at 3.34m tonnes – down 1.29m tonnes year on year, reflecting in the main an expectation of area at 470,000 hectares, down 116,000 hectares year on year.
The harvest in Romania, an increasingly important exporter, was also seen falling, by 102,000 tonnes to 8.51m tonnes, on a slight erosion in yields.
France, Romania differences
The Coceral forecast is marginally more upbeat than that of the European Commission, which two weeks ago pegged the EU soft wheat harvest this year at 140.0m tonnes, a year-on-year decline of 1.6m tonnes on its estimates.
However, there were differences between the two estimates on detail, with the commission forecasting a far more substantial drop in the Romanian harvest, of 12.0%, and in France of 2.6%.
While no further details were given, both figures would represent roughly 1m tonnes of production.
Strategie Grains has pegged the EU soft wheat harvest this year at 141.7m tonnes, a fall of some 100,000 tonnes on its estimates.
Like Coceral, the Paris-based analysis group forecasts a small fall in sowings largely offset by higher yields.
Data including durum
Separately on Friday, Societe Generale forecast a drop in EU all-wheat area, including durum, this year of 1.5%, to 26.23m hectares.
“Farmers in the EU are likely to reduce winter wheat acreage in 2018-19, by… 1.5%, on our forecasts,” the bank said, while pegging output at 154.39m tonnes, up 1.9% year on year.
Including durum, the Coceral forecast works out at 149.2m tonnes, a drop of 1.30m tonnes year on year, with the European Commission at 148.7m tonnes, a drop of 2.2m tonnes.
Strategie Grains data imply an EU all-wheat crop at 150.9m tonnes – level year on year on its data.
Coceral, in its first forecast for EU rapeseed output this year, pegged it at 22.01m tonnes, a rise of 97,000 tonnes year on year.
Declines in Polish and UK output were seen as being more than offset by increased harvests in the Czech Republic and in second-ranked EU grower Germany, where the crop was pegged at 4.58m tonnes, a rise of 284,000 tonnes year on year on increased yield hopes.
The European Commission has forecast the EU rapeseed harvest at 22.8m tonnes, a rise of 1.0m tonnes year on year, while Strategie Grains sees it gaining 680,000 tonnes to 22.66m tonnes.