EU wheat survives dry spell

More rain needed | Soft wheat crop expected to increase two percent

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) — Wheat crops in the European Union’s top four producing countries have survived a dry start to the spring, but more rain is still needed, traders and analysts said.


“The outlook is overall positive for the new crop this year, and good export supplies are nearing,” one German trader said.


French analyst Strategie Grains forecast the EU’s 2014 soft wheat crop will rise two percent or 2.1 million tonnes on the year to 137.2 million tonnes.


“Crops are weeks in advance of their normal growth stage at this time of year in several countries because of the mild winter,” another trader said. “Recent rain was just about enough to prevent major damage after dryness in early spring, but more rain is urgently needed in coming weeks.”


In France, the largest EU wheat producer, the 2014 harvest will be 36.71 million tonnes, hardly changed from last year’s 36.75 million tonnes, Strategie Grains forecast.


Some wheat, mainly in eastern France, is starting to feel the impact of several weeks of dryness, but good water reserves thanks to a wet winter and forecasts for rain next week could limit the damage.


Some 10 percent of winter crops have been hit by dry weather, said Pascal Prot, the head of Vivescia, one of one of France’s largest grain co-operatives. 


“We need rain,” he added.


In Germany, the second-largest producer, a slightly smaller crop is expected, but recent rain helped crops after a prolonged dry period.

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