French farm bureau raises bar on wheat hopes

images Officials at France’s farm office lifted the bar further on forecasts for the country’s soft wheat crop, the European Union’s biggest, saying a spring drought had proved less damaging than had been thought.

FranceAgriMer raised its estimate for the French soft wheat harvest by 1.3m tonnes to 33.3m tonnes, after a cool and wet July improved prospects for a crop tested by one of the driest springs on record.

The yield forecast was lifted by 0.2 tonnes per hectare to 6.6 tonnes per hectare.

"The average national yield, is certainly down sharply on the 2010 harvest, but it is above what was expected given the weather conditions during the season," the bureau said.

Lead in rapeseed

While the yield figure is below the 7.6 tonnes per hectare recorded last year, when the French crop came in at 35.7m tonnes, it is significantly above spring estimates, when FranceAgriMer foresaw the harvest dropping to 31m tonnes.

It is also above an estimate of 32.5m tonnes from the French agriculture ministry last week. The US Department of Agriculture has pegged the total crop, including durum, at 33.4m tonnes, an estimate that may be upgraded in a monthly report on Thursday.

And FranceAgriMer was more generous than some other observers on its estimate for the French rapeseed crop, putting it at 5.3m tonnes, above a ministry forecast of 5.0m tonnes.

Either estimate would represent an improvement from the 4.8m tonnes of rapeseed reaped last year, and make France the EU’s top grower of the oilseed too, overtaking Germany whose prospects have been damaged by a disappointing sowing campaign last atutumn, elevated levels of winterkill and a wet harvest season.

Rapeseed yields had been very variable, ranging from less than 1.5 tonnes per hectare in some eastern areas to more than 6 tonnes per hectare on some northern farms.

The difficult growing conditions meant that agronomic errors by farmers exacted a harsh yield penalty, FranceAgriMer said.–3462.html

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