EU wheat area expected to hold steady as sowing starts
Farmers in the European Union have begun sowing wheat for next year’s harvest, with early expectations that the crop area will be stable or slightly bigger thanks to favourable weather and attractive prices.
An expected rebound in rapeseed sowing could limit expansion in wheat after the cereal had already recovered area for this year’s harvest following a rain-disrupted sowing campaign two years ago.
Tensions in the fertiliser market, a knock-on effect of surging gas prices, are not expected to affect autumn sowing decisions by European farmers but could pose a problem for field work next spring, analysts and traders said.
In France, a jump in rapeseed planting is considered more likely to curb sowing of spring crops than wheat.
“The wheat and winter barley area is going to hold up for sure,” one French trader said. “Field conditions are favourable, with good soil moisture.”
Farmers had completed 4% of expected sowing of common wheat, or soft wheat, by Oct. 4, farm office FranceAgriMer said.
A sunny spell this week should allow more farmers to get in the fields after heavy showers since late September.
“It’s possible we’ll see a third of the area sown in the next few days,” said Alexis Decarrier, soft wheat specialist at crop institute Arvalis.
If fertiliser prices remain high and supply reduced, that could deter farmers from applying usual nutrient doses after winter, Decarrier said, adding that Arvalis is planning advice for farmers to avoid loss of wheat yield and protein potential.
In Germany, wheat sowings are expected to increase slightly.
“Wheat prices are high, which should encourage plantings, but rapeseed is even more attractive,” one German analyst said, estimating that the area could rise by 100,000 hectares to 2.9 million hectares.
High wheat prices are expected to limit the economic impact of rising fertiliser costs for now.
However, German regulatory curbs on fertiliser use could cap the wheat area because farmers would need to rotate crops to preserve soil nutrients, the analyst said.
In Poland, wheat planting is under way in favourable weather and the area is likely to expand slightly, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.
“No hard data is available yet, but I see the area planted to winter wheat at about 2.3 million hectares versus about 2.2 million hectares for the 2021 harvest,” Sabaranski said.
In addition to attractive prices, wheat sowing could also benefit from problems with rapeseed drilling in some areas owing to heavy rain, he added.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Michael Hogan in Hamburg Editing by David Goodman)