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France sees soft wheat crop down 7% on lower yield and area

This year’s soft wheat crop in France, the European Union’s biggest producer, is expected to fall by about 7% from last year’s level after harsh weather dented yields and farmers planted less of the cereal, the farm ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry projected 2022 soft wheat production at 32.90 million tonnes (mln t), down 7.2% compared with 2021 and 5.9% below the average volume of the past five years.

The production outlook was based on an expected yield of 6.99 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), against 7.11 t/ha last year, and an estimated crop area of 4.71 million hectares (mln ha), down from 4.98 mln ha in 2021, the ministry said in a report.

The yield forecast was slightly above the 6.95 t/ha projected by crop institute Arvalis earlier this month.

Adverse weather, including drought, affected straw cereals like wheat and barley, the ministry said.

“These crops suffered from a rainfall deficit, from heat and, in some places, from damage caused by storms,” it said.

The ministry projected this year’s total barley production, including both winter and spring crops, at 11.18 million tonnes, down 2.4% from last year.

Of the total, the winter barley crop was seen at 8.24 mln t, up 0.2%, and spring barley production pegged at 2.94 mln t, down 9.2%.

For rapeseed, France’s main oilseed crop, 2022 production was estimated at 3.98 mln t, up 20.4% from last year but 2.6% lower than the five-year average.

In area revisions for later-harvested crops, the ministry increased its estimate of the grain maize area, excluding crop grown for seeds, to 1.37 mln ha from 1.36 mln ha last month, but still sharply lower than 1.46 mln ha in 2021.

For sunflower seed, the estimated 2022 area was increased to 840,000 ha from 797,000 ha last month and was now the highest since 1997, according to the ministry.

The expected sugar beet area was left unchanged at 397,000 ha, down from 402,000 ha last year.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely)

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