European cereal crops hurt by bad weather

Poor weather in many parts of Europe has taken a toll on crop yields this year, unlike past years when yields were good, like this crop in Cambridgeshire, England. |  File photo

Cereal production in the European Union is forecast to be below average for a second year.

According to the summer short-term outlook report published by the European Commission, adverse weather conditions in various regions in Europe means cereal production is likely to mean slightly below average.

Heavy rain and severe drought have damaged yields, particularly in Spain where the projected winter barley yield is 21 percent below the trend, and spring barley is 33 percent below.

Other areas of concern include northwestern France and Belgium, where the combination of a dry May and a hot June resulted in unfavourable conditions for most winter and spring crops.

As a result, overall EU exports will be down and EU stocks are expected to tighten.

However, because of an increase in cereal production in other parts of the world, ample supplies are expected and prices are not likely to be significantly affected.

For the 2017-18 year, the global cereal harvest is estimated to be slightly more than two billion tonnes.

That’s three per cent lower than last year, but plentiful supplies following two good harvests mean global supplies will likely remain strong.

The report said the harvest of 2016-17 has been the largest global cereal harvest in history. Despite record consumption, global stocks are expected to rise further at the end of this term to more than 500 million tonnes.

In the 2017-18 crop year, as much as 740 million tonnes of wheat are expected to be produced globally, which is two percent lower than last year’s record crop.

The report says overall EU harvests of corn and common wheat were substantially lower than average, while the output of barley was good.

In 2016-17, 134.4 million tonnes of wheat were produced in the EU. Barley production remained at a high level, with around 60 million tonnes harvested.

A total of 173 million tonnes of cereals, principally wheat, corn and barley, were used for animal feed in the EU in 2016-17.

The amount of barley used for feed increased significantly be-cause of a drop in exports and the relatively large EU harvest.

However, the amount of wheat used for feed decreased due to limited availability.

Seeded areas for 2017-18 are likely to be slightly lower than the previous marketing year.

With 138.8 million acres of cereals, the total area is 1.3 percent less than the previous year and 2.3 percent below the last five-year average.

Areas sown with corn, sorghum, triticale and rye are substantially below the last five-year average, while barley and wheat are only slightly below the last five-year average.

However, durum and wheat acres and, to a lesser extent oats, are expanding.

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