France to see rise in rapeseed output this year, after all


French officials trumpeted the boost to rapeseed prospects from higher sowings as they forecast a, small, rise in domestic output of the oilseed this year, contrary to expectations from other commentators of a weaker harvest.

France's agriculture ministry, in its first forecast for the 2017 French winter rapeseed crop, pegged it at 4.766m tonnes - a 0.9% rise on last year's outturn of 4.73m tonnes.

While still representing a below-average crop, with production typically at about 5.08m tonnes, the forecast is above estimates from the likes of Agritel, and the 4.3m tonnes expected by the International Grains Council.

And it exceeds the 4.53m tonnes expected by industry group Coceral.

The ministry is working on forecast for French rapeseed sowings of 1.45m hectares, ahead of the Coceral figure of 1.36m hectares.

Frost damage?

However, the French officials were, in pegging the yield at 3.26 tonnes per hectare, more downbeat on yield prospects than peers at the European Commission's Mars research unit.

The ministry said that "frosts and the lack of rain" earlier in the growing season "were able to locally cause significant damage" to rapeseed crops.

But Mars two weeks ago, forecasting a yield of 3.39 tonnes per hectare, said that "rain observed since the beginning of May will allow plants to compensate from some of the losses, forming new flowers and pods".

Winter barley prospects

The ministry also issued its first forecast for French output of winter barley, seeing production of 9.34m tonnes this year - a rise of more than 1.1m tonnes year on year, and despite some setback to "optimal" yield prospects from rain shortfalls and frost too.

Still, yields are expected to be markedly higher than last year, boosted by raised sowings.

The harvest forecast is marginally below the 9.44m-tonne French winter barley crop expected by Coceral.

However, the ministry's estimate of a 6.30-tonnes-per-hectare yield is well above a Mars forecast of 5.76 tonnes per hectare.


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