France optimism revives EU rapeseed harvest hopes


European Union rapeseed output prospects received a boost with two upbeat forecasts in one day for the harvest in France, the bloc's top producer - with weather now rated as benign rather than challenging for the crop.

Strategie Grains on Monday hiked its forecast for the EU rapeseed crop, the world's biggest, by 790,000 tonnes to 21.9m tonnes – taking it 1.6m tonnes above last year's harvest.

The upgrade reflected in part higher expectations for crops in Romania and in the UK, where harvest yields have proved better than expected, with estimates for both crops lifted by 120,000 tonnes apiece.

However, the bulk of the upgrade, 520,000 tonnes, was down to increased expectations of the French crop, "where rapeseed resisted" a June heatwave which had raised worries over crop damage, the analysis group said.

'Very encouraging'

The analysis chimed with comments made separately on Monday from oilseeds research institute Terres Inovia, which flagged "very encouraging" harvest results in France.

While yield results had varied from 3.5-4.5 tonnes per hectares, the average come come in at 3.8 tonnes per hectare, placing 2017 "as a record year", matching the result in 2009.

After a mild winter, and without flooding episodes, and a flowering period which took place amid conducive weather, "the spring conditions were optimal for rapeseed", Terres Inovia said, underling the importance of timely planting too in boosting yield prospects.

'Climatic hazards and pests'

With a mild winter, without excess water and a bloom that took place in a context of adapted brightness and temperature, the spring conditions were optimal for rapeseed.

"In fact, autumn 2016 seedings made too late in dry conditions proved disastrous."

The further rapeseed crops are developed heading into the winter the they are able "to withstand climatic hazards and pests", said the institute, which pegged the French rapeseed crop at 5.3m tonnes.

That would be well above last year's result of 4.74m tonnes, on French farm ministry data, despite sowings this year pegged down 90,000 hectares at 1.46m hectares, thanks to the setback from autumn drought.

The farm ministry itself has estimated the French rapeseed crop at 4.67m tonnes, saying that "frosts, lack of rain and high heat caused significant local damage In the north east of France".

EU, IGC forecasts

At an EU-wide level, European Commission on Friday cut its forecast for the bloc's rapeseed crop 100,000 tonnes to 21.6m tonnes, following downgrades by its Mars agricultural meteorology unit to estimates for the Austrian and UK yield prospects.

And the International Grains Council lowered its EU rapeseed production estimate by 500,000 tonnes to 21.2m tonnes.

"While climatic conditions have been concerning at times, field reports indicate better than anticipated yields in France," the council said.

"Nevertheless, due to a reduction in area, [French] production is seen falling to 4.6m tonnes."


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