HAMBURG, Dec 20 (Reuters) – German farmers have expanded sowings of winter wheat for harvesting in summer 2014 by 2.5 percent on the year to 3.13 million hectares, the German government’s statistics office said in its first sowings estimate on Friday.
The agency also said that rapeseed sowings have been reduced by 1.8 percent on the year to 1.43 million hectares.
Traders in Germany, the EU’s second largest wheat producer and exporter, had expected an increase in wheat sowings because of good demand and favourable planting conditions in the autumn.
German grain trading house Toepfer International this week estimated Germany’s winter wheat sown area for the 2014 harvest has been expanded by 3 percent to 3.22 million hectares.
A cut in rapeseed planted area had been expected for crop rotation reasons and because of sluggish German sales of biodiesel produced from rapeseed oil. The German oilseeds industry association had in November forecast a 4 percent reduction in sowings.
Germany’s winter barley planted area, used for animal feed, has been increased by 2.7 percent to 1.24 million hectares, the statistics office said.
The area for rye and other minor winter grain types is down 16.7 percent to 652,000 hectares.
Sowings of the feed grain triticale are up 1.8 percent at 405,000 hectares, it said.
“The official forecasts are in the range of market expectations and confirm another move towards wheat because of good demand and export prospects,” one German grain trader said. “There has been a noticeable switch to wheat in the north and north east of Germany, which are export production areas.”