EU grains output to revive in 2017 - but oilseed prospects muted


European Union output of grains will recover next year, but not oilseeds, producers groups Copa and Cogeca said, flagging the threat of farmers shunning rapeseed because of a lack of approved pesticides.

The EU, the top wheat producer, will sees its cereals production recover by 4.2% from levels depressed this year notably by persistent rains in France, the bloc's top grains grower, and second0-ranked Germany.

"Prospects for 2017 look more promising for cereals with sowing conditions quite good in some member states," Copa and Cogeca said.

Growth of 4.2% would suggest an increase next year of more than 12m tonnes in EU grains output, which the European Commission pegs for 2016-17 at 294.8m tonnes, and reverse all  but 4m tonnes of output lost in the latest harvest.

'Farmers will not take the risk'

However, Copa and Cogeca forecast a recovery of only 0.8% in the 2017 EU oilseeds output, equivalent to a little over 200,000 tonnes, and reversing only a small part of this year's decline.

An increase of that amount would, on official EU data, leave the bloc's harvest neat year at a bit over 30.5m tonnes – still well short of the 31.7m tonnes produced in 2015.

Mike Hambly, vice-chairman of the Copa and Cogeca working party on cereals and oilseeds, underlined the question mark that EU insecticide curbs had placed over growing rapeseed.

In the latest year, "many complained of poor weather conditions and of cabbage stem flea beetle attacks hitting their rapeseed crop mainly due to the suspension of neonicotinoid seed treatments," Mr Hamley said.

"Farmers will not take the risk of sowing rapeseed if they do not have a good supply of plant protection products at their disposal."

'Lowest since 2000'

The comments tally with those in the UK from land agency Strutt & Parker, which warned two weeks ago that even with rapeseed prices at around their highest in three years, there was "indecision" over the crop's future.

This week, agronomy group AICC estimated that some 70,000 hectares of UK rapeseed sowings, equivalent to 13%, had been lost so far, a dynamic which, combined with weaker sowings, could leave the country looking at a 25% drop in total area.

"Looking at worst case scenarios, and taking into account 5% winter kill, the possibility of the lowest [UK rapeseed] harvested area since 2000 is not out of the question," analysis group CRM AgriCommodities said.


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