HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) — Rapeseed crops in the top four European Union producers Germany, France, Britain and Poland have all come though the winter well, crop watchers say.
As a result, optimism about the 2014 harvest is increasing.
“I think the mild winter means people are going to start increasing crop forecasts,” one German rapeseed trader said.
“All we need is normal spring and summer weather without major droughts, and I think yield estimates will be raised.”
The European Commission expects the EU’s 2014 rapeseed crop to be 20.7 million tonnes, slightly down from 20.8 million tonnes last year.
French analyst Strategie Grains is more optimistic, putting the 2014 EU rapeseed crop at 21.5 million tonnes.
A mild winter in Germany, which is the EU’s largest rapeseed producer, has helped plants develop, but a reduction in seeded area means a smaller crop is expected.
Germany’s farm co-operatives association expects this year’s winter rapeseed crop will fall 3.2 percent to 5.57 million tonnes following a 1.8 percent reduction in seeding to 3.53 million acres.
“Rapeseed is about a month ahead of last year’s development and 14 days ahead of the long-term average because of the warm weather and no significant frost damage,” a German trader said.
“I think the harvest forecasts will be increased.”
Mild and dry weather in France, the second largest producer, allowed most rapeseed crops to recover after heavy autumn and winter rain raised fears of significant damage.
“Yields will be much better than last year, but without this excess of water they would have been excellent,” said Fabien Lagarde from the oilseed growers’ institute Cetiom.
Farm office FranceAgriMer estimates French farmers have planted 3.76 million acres of rapeseed, up six percent from last year.
Rapeseed appears in good shape in Britain following recent warm, dry weather. Production should also be boosted by a slight rise in seeded area.
“The warm weather has brought the crop on nicely: so far so good is the headline,” said Jack Watts, senior analyst with the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.
Watts estimated that seeded area should rise around three percent.
Last year’s crop fell 16.8 percent to 2.13 million tonnes after a cut in seeded acres and a 12 percent drop in yields. The drop was partly because a higher proportion of lower yielding spring rapeseed was seeded.
“It is a completely different outlook compared to a year ago,” Watts said.
“This year should see a return to a more normal cropping mix.”
Polish crops have also come through the winter with little frost damage, but a cut in seeded area means a smaller crop is likely, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.
Sparks Polska estimates Polish farmers have planted 2.08 million acres for this year’s crop, down nine percent on the year.