EU nudges higher grain, rapeseed yield hopes, despite 'unfavourable weather'

17.04.2018

Official European cropwatchers nudged higher forecasts for the region’s barley, rapeseed and wheat yields despite “overly wet conditions” in many areas – but put a drop in Ukraine’s barley yield on the cards.

The European Commission’s Mars agrometeorology unit raised to 0.11 tonnes per hectare, from 0.09 tonnes per hectare, the rise expected in European Union grain yields this year.

The marginal increase came despite the bureau acknowledging “cold and wet conditions”, which saw temperatures fall as low as -8 degrees Celsius late last month, while “overly wet conditions were recorded in western and central Italy, France, the UK” as well as in parts of the Balkans and Greece.

Such conditions “caused delays to the start of spring sowings and hampered the growth and development of winter crops”.

‘Yield potential not affected’

However, the weather “did not cause substantial damage” to winter crops, Mars said, flagging in fact a setback in some areas to disease pressures.

In France, the EU’s top producer of grains, including soft wheat, “there is currently no real widespread concern for winter cereals.

“Yield potential has not been clearly affected by the wet conditions and radiation deficit observed this winter, or by the cold spell observed at the end of February.

“This yield forecasts are unchanged, and still follow the historical trend.”

German, UK upgrades

For Germany, the EU’s second-biggest grower of the major grains, Mars nudged higher yield forecasts, by 0.08 tonnes per hectare to 8.04 tonnes per hectare for soft wheat, and by 0.14 tonnes per hectare to 7.38 tonnes per hectare for winter barley.

For rapeseed, the German yield forecast was upgraded by 0.20 tonnes per hectare to 3.90 tonnes per hectare.

While small, the increases lifted expectations for all three crops above the five-year average.

The UK wheat yield was nudged higher by 0.02 tonnes per hectare to 8.21 tonnes per hectare, also taking it above the five-year average, and reflecting ideas that “winter crops are generally in good condition.
 
“As temperatures increase and soil moisture improves in April, conditions may quickly become favourable for winter cereals.”

Spring sowings delays

For spring crops, Mars said that the damp conditions had caused “delays to spring and summer crop sowing” in a number of countries, notably for barley in France and the UK where thanks to “an excess of soil moisture… delays were significant.

“Abundant rainfall, particularly in March, made fields inaccessible for preparing seedbeds until the end of that month,” the bureau said.

Although spring barley sowings in both countries were “now under way and expected to be completed by mid-April… these delays might have a negative impact on yields”.

Nonetheless, the bureau stood by a forecast for an overall EU spring barley yield of 4.27 tonnes per hectare, and said that for spring crops overall, “in most cases, there is still time to complete sowing within a suitable window without significant impact on yields”.

‘Will negatively affect yields’

One, non European Union, country which did receive Mars crops downgrade was Ukraine wheat, for where the yield forecast for this year’s wheat harvest was cut by 0.12 tonnes per hectare to 4.26 tonnes per hectare, and for barley by 0.08 tonnes per hectare to 3.32 tonnes per hectare, taking it below last year’s result.

In Ukraine, “relatively low temperatures and snow cover maintain the winter crops in dormancy and delayed their growth, which will negatively affect the yields of winter cereals”, the bureau said.

“The sowing of spring barley is delayed compared with previous years, and thus the yield potential is also expected to be affected.”


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