EU wheat exports to recover, a bit, in 2017-18 - Strategie Grains

20.01.2017

European Union soft wheat exports will recover next season– but to nowhere near recent highs, Strategie Grains said, flagging a dent to production hopes from this month's cold snap.

The influential analysis group, in its first forecast for EU soft wheat exports in 2017-18 pegged them at 26.5m tonnes.

That would be represent an improvement on the 23m tonnes expected for this season, which ends in June, but remain well below the highs above 30m tonnes seen earlier in the decade which promoted the bloc, the world's biggest wheat producer, to top rank in exports of the grain too.

EU soft wheat exports averaged 32.0m tonnes a year in the three seasons to 2015-16, European Commission data show.

Harvest downgrade

The forecast reflects in part the extent of wheat supplies in other exporting countries, with world inventories widely seen as entering 2017-18 at a record high.

Strategie Grains also factored in an EU soft wheat harvest of 143.8m tonnes this year, a downgrade of 1.2m tonnes on the previous estimate.

The downgraded figure still represents a sharp recovery, of 7.9m tonnes, on the 2016 result, which was undermined by wet weather which devastated the crop in France, the EU's top producing country.

However, the revision took the estimate below average levels, which on both three-year and five-year timescales work out at 144m-145m tonnes

'Some loss to winterkill'

The production downgrade was attributed to the EU cold snap earlier this month which has affected in particular the east of the bloc, landing snow on Greek beaches, and bringing ice which has snarled up grains traffic around Danube river and Black Sea hubs.

"Some loss of acreage to winterkill and reduction to yield potentials is now expected," Strategie Grains said.

Hungary could prove "the worst-hit country", the Paris-based group added, flagging that "very little (in some places no) snow fell to protect the crops" from the freeze.

Snow cover

Still, commentators have broadly downplayed the threat to EU, and former Soviet Union, grains production from this month's cold snap.

Agritel said that "weak snow cover" had left some Polish crops vulnerable to winterkill, but said that in the Black Sea area, the snow blanket was "adequate" to protect seedlings.

In Russia, it flagged that winter crops had entered dormancy in better condition than a year before, so boosting hopes for resisting cold damage.

"Only 3% of the fields were judged not to be in a good condition before winter while it was 9% in 2015."


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