Favourable weather drives rebound in EU winter and spring crops

Industry watch on Northern Hemisphere grain yields

Cropping
European Union winter and spring crop estimates have kicked on the back of good growing conditions.

European Union winter and spring crop estimates have kicked on the back of good growing conditions.

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Estimates peg this year's EU wheat crop harvest to average 5.79 tonnes per hectare.

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Favourable spring and early summer temperatures, combined with above average soil moisture in most regions, have boosted grain yield estimates for the European Union's winter and spring crops.

The outlook there is now sitting well above the five-year average.

When the cooler temperatures of May gave way to warmer days throughout June, crop development accelerated and extended the grain fill periods in many districts.

There are parts of Italy and Portugal that have been on the dry side, but below average temperatures have limited negative impacts.

On the flip side, parts of the Baltic and neighbouring regions have been relatively wet and this has limited grain yield potential.

Excessive cloud cover in northern Germany and southern Denmark has limited radiation during the critical flowering period and slightly reduced yield potential as a result.

According to the latest crop monitoring bulletin from JRC MARS, this year's EU wheat harvest will average 5.79 tonnes per hectare.

This is 1.6 per cent higher than the May projection of 5.7t/ha and sits 5.8 per cent above the five-year average of 5.47t/ha.

The big winner has been the soft wheat crop, which is forecast to have an the average yield of 6.01t/ha.

This is 1.7 per cent higher than the May figure and 5.6 per cent higher than the five-year average of 5.69t/ha.

The yield increase in the durum wheat crop is not as impressive.

MARS has called it at 3.57t/ha this year, which is just 2.2 per cent above the five-year average of 3.49t/ha.

On the barley front, MARS is predicting an average yield of 4.97t/ha, which is 4.2 per cent higher than the five-year average of 4.77t/ha.

Studying the breakdown, it is definitely the spring planted crops that are letting the team down.

The winter and spring barley crops are predicted to yield 5.9t/ha and 4.28t/ha, respectively, which are 4.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent above the five-year average.

Like the Tour de France, which started in the north west of the country on the weekend, so too the French winter crop harvest has commenced.

On Friday of last week, FranceAgriMer advised that 1 per cent of the winter barley crop was in the bin as of June 21 - down from 2 per cent in the same week of 2020.

The French farm office also released its latest wheat and barley crop ratings, which had a slight deterioration across the board in the week to June 21.

But the crop is still sitting above average for this time in the season, and there is expected to be a sharp rebound in production compared to the poor harvest in 2020.

The soft wheat crop rating came in at 79 per cent good-to-excellent, down from 81 per cent a week earlier.

The durum wheat rating fell three percentage points week-on-week to 67 per cent good-to-excellent.

The winter barley crop was rated 75 per cent good-to-excellent, which was down 1 per cent from the June 14 rating.

On the whole, the spring barley crop is in better condition at 84 per cent good-to-excellent. But it did lose two percentage points across the week.

In Germany, the wheat, barley and rapeseed crops all suffered from below-average growth in the cool early spring weather.

But a much warmer June and good soil moisture has enabled crops in most regions to catch up.

According to Germany's Association of Farm Co-operatives, the crops were about two to three weeks behind typical development in May - but are now only about one week to 10 days behind.

The European Commission updated production estimates for its 27 member countries last Thursday.

The output of what it refers to as usable soft wheat was trimmed by 0.4 million tonnes to 125.8 million tonnes, compared to the agency's May forecast.

If realised, that would put the 2021 crop 7.3 per cent higher than the drought-affected total of 117.2 million tonnes last year.

The Commission pegged soft wheat exports from the EU-27 at 30 million tonnes for the 2021-22 marketing year, which starts at the back end of this week on July 1.

This represents an 11 per cent increase on the 27 million tonnes of wheat exports projected in the current marketing year.

However, a couple of key internal EU wheat demand categories were also revised higher in this month's report.

The quantity of wheat expected to be used in stockfeed rations and biofuel both increased by 300,000t to 41.3 million tonnes and 3.4 million tonnes, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Commission expects wheat imports into the EU-27 to total 2.7 million tonnes in the coming marketing year.

Ending stocks are expected to total 10.1 million tonnes on June 30, 2022.

This would be down from the May estimate of 10.8 million tonnes, but 22.7 per cent higher than the 8.8 million tonnes likely to be in reserve when the 2020-21 marketing year concludes this week.

According to the Commission, usable barley production across the EU member states is forecast at 53.5 million tonnes. This is down 1 million tonnes from the May estimate and 6 per cent lower than the final 2020-21 production volume.

The Commission revised last year's barley harvest up 2.1 million tonnes to 56.9 million tonnes on the back of robust exports, but ample supply.

This pushed ending stocks for the 2021-22 marketing year to 8.4 million tonnes, compared to 6.8 million tonnes in last month's report.

On the rapeseed front, the Commission left its May production estimate unchanged at 16.7 million tonnes in last week's update.

But it did raise member country imports by 400,000t to 62 million tonnes in 2021-22 - on a par with imports in the current marketing year.

Higher production will be the order of the day across the 27 EU member states this harvest.

This should result in export volumes, particularly from France, into traditional northern African homes returning to pre-drought levels.

No doubt competition from the Black Sea region will be intense as the region forges new export partnerships.

But there is always China, as the French so readily entertained in the current marketing year.

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