By Nigel Hunt
LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) – The European Union is on track to harvest a record rapeseed crop this summer as recent rains improve an already favourable outlook in the world’s top producer of the oilseed.
“Rapeseed gained from the mild winter. There was concern about springtime dryness but rain has now removed these fears,” a grains analyst in Germany, normally the leading EU producer of rapeseed, said.
Rainfall has also boosted the outlook for crops in France, which vies with Germany for the top spot in EU rapeseed output.
Forecasters had already been expecting French rapeseed production to rebound from last year’s poor crop, but heavy showers on Wednesday are thought to have brought relief to plants in the east that had missed out on regular rain seen elsewhere in the country during May.
“With the widespread rainfall we’ve just seen, the good to very good yield potential should be confirmed,” Fabien Lagarde of French oilseed institute Cetiom said. “It rained where we needed it to, including in the east.”
Analyst Strategie Grains this week raised its forecast for the EU rapeseed crop by 200,000 tonnes to a record 21.8 million, citing favourable growing weather.
Another analyst, ODA, raised its outlook by 450,000 tonnes this month, also to 21.8 million, and said it could increase its estimate further if good conditions persist.
Last year the EU produced 20.9 million tonnes, according to the European Commission.
“There was an early and long flowering phase (in Germany) and hopes are that seed yields will be high if we get warm weather in the rest of June,” the German grains analyst said.
“I am optimistic as the plants in the fields are looking in excellent shape. Harvest forecasts are being increased.”
Germany’s leading grain trader Toepfer International on May 27 raised its forecast of Germany’s 2014 rapeseed crop to 5.72 million tonnes, close to the 5.76 million tonnes in 2013 and 290,000 tonnes up from Toepfer’s April crop estimate.
Strategie Grains and ODA forecast a French rapeseed crop of 5.2 million tonnes, up from 4.4 million in 2013.
SMALLER HARVEST IN POLAND
In Poland, forecasts are being increased but a reduced planted area means a smaller harvest is likely.
“We have increased our rapeseed crop projections due to very good crop conditions and likely higher yields this year,” said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.
Sparks Polska now forecasts Poland will harvest more than 2.7 million tonnes of rapeseed in 2014, up 200,000 tonnes from its previous estimate, but down 6 percent from last year’s crop.
Official Polish figures say Poland’s planted area was reduced by some 8.5 percent from last year but Sparks Polska estimates average yields could be up by about 2 percent.
Rapeseed crops in Britain are more advanced than in most recent years, with production set to rebound from last year’s below-par level.
“Most crops are in good condition with excellent pod set,” crop consultants ADAS said in a report this week.
Rapeseed production in the UK fell 16.8 percent last year to 2.13 million tonnes, according to government figures, hurt by a 5.4 percent decline in area and 12 percent drop in yields.
A slight rise in planted area is anticipated following generally favourable sowing conditions last autumn.