EU rapeseed crop looks good despite bad weather

HAMBURG, July 13 (Reuters) – The European Union will harvest a large rapeseed crop this season despite plants suffering extreme weather from drought to heatwaves and then too much rain, experts said on Thursday.

“The crop is looking decent despite the weather extremes and I would expect the EU’s rapeseed imports in the new 2017-18 season will be cut by about 500,000 tonnes to around 4 million tonnes,” one rapeseed trader said.

The outlook is better than expected in the two largest producers, France and Germany.

French farmers are about halfway through the rapeseed harvest and indications are of better yields than had been expected given adverse weather since sowing, said Fabien Lagarde of oilseed institute Terres Inovia.

“We’re heading for a relatively good year,” Lagarde said. “Initial results are encouraging and we could reach an average yield of around 3.6 tonnes per hectare.”

That would be up from the poor 2016 yield of 3.06 tonnes per hectare and also above the 3.2 tonnes currently estimated by France’s farm ministry as the basis for its crop forecast of 4.7 million tonnes, down 1.5 percent from 2016.

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After rain in the past week disrupted field work, French harvesting should accelerate next week with mostly warm, dry weather forecast.

Germany’s 2017 winter rapeseed crop will rise 4.6 percent on the year to 4.78 million tonnes, the farm cooperatives association estimates. Harvesting is now starting.

The EU’s third largest producer Poland will harvest 2.9 million tonnes, up 31 percent from last year’s very poor crop because of improved yields, Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska estimated.

“The rapeseed harvest in Poland is likely to start later than normal due to wet weather,” Sabaranski said. “In the south, it is not ripe yet and the plants need a few sunny days to dry off and simply ripen.”

But sunnier weather is forecast in the second half of July is forecast which could enable the harvest in south Poland to start after July 20, he added.

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In Britain, usually the fourth largest producer, traders estimate a crop of 1.9-2.0 million tonnes against 1.77 million tonnes last year.

British harvesting has started in south England with early yields above average, traders said.

“Most yields are 3.5 to 4.0 (tonnes per hectare) and the rapeseed looks a lot better in the Midlands and North where they haven’t cut anything yet,” one oilseed trader said.

The UK average yield last year was 3.1 tonnes per hectare.

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