FRANCE’S wheat harvest, the European Union’s biggest, advanced in the past four days as sunny weather and temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) allowed fields to dry and farmers to cut crops.
More than 70% of French wheat had been harvested by Tuesday, and first indications are that rain in past weeks hasn’t hurt quality, according to Gautier Le Molgat, an analyst at Paris-based farm adviser Agritel.
France’s soft-wheat production will fall 10% to 32 million metric tons after a spring drought cut yields, crops office FranceAgriMer has forecast. Field results show the harvest is heading to meet that outlook, according to Le Molgat and analyst Frederic Nguyen at Offre et Demande Agricole.
"It’s still a small harvest, but not as disastrous as was maybe feared just a few weeks ago," Le Molgat said by telephone yesterday. "There was a lot of concern about the quality, and the quality has held up rather well."
Improved weather allowed French farmers to bring in 10% to 15% of the country’s wheat crop between July 30 and yesterday, after rain halted fieldwork last week, said Michel Portier, the head of Agritel.
Harvesting of the soft wheat crop may be 80% complete in coming days, while the entire harvest won’t be done for another three weeks because not all grain in the north and east has ripened.
Harvest work was halted for about a dozen days because of rain before restarting this past weekend, according to Nguyen.