E.U. expects above average cereal harvest
by World Grain Staff
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — An above average E.U. cereal harvest is expected for the second year in a row, according to the European Commission’s Summer 2014 Short-Term Agricultural Outlook published on July 7.
Consolidated figures for 2013-14 confirm an above average cereal harvest of 302 million tonnes, supporting a record level of exports expected to reach 42 million tonnes. As a consequence, carry-over stocks are limited and the stock-to-use ratio is expected to recover only partially from 10% to 12%. The new harvest in 2014-15 is expected to be above average for the second year in a row and reach 303 million tonnes.
Cereal production is 5% above the five-year average and more than 8% above production in 2012-13. This includes a wheat export level of 29 million tonnes, 43% above the average.
Soft wheat remains the top E.U. crop with a final production of 135 million tonnes (5.7% above average), followed by maize with 65 million tonnes (9.6% above average) and barley 59 million tonnes (5.9% above average). Durum wheat with 7.8 million tonnes (10% below average) continues its decrease since 2007.
Cereal area sown was slightly lower by 0.2% from the previous year, mainly due to slight decreases in all categories with the exception of soft wheat (+0.7%).
By contrast, yields show an increase of 8% over the previous year thanks to favourable climatic conditions, in particular for soft wheat with a 7.3% gain, barley with a 10% gain and maize with a 11% gain. The decrease in durum wheat production is mainly explained by reduced areas (-9% compared to the previous year), notably in France.
The strong increases in yields are attributed mainly to the improved climatic conditions, especially in Spain, Hungary and the Balkan regions, which were affected by droughts the previous year.
Cereal exports are estimated to reach a record of 42 million tonnes, of which 29 million tonnes would be soft wheat (43% above average) and 8.5 million tonnes barley (32% above average). This results in higher shipments to E.U. traditional destinations (the Maghreb countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and also to South Korea and Iran. Romania and Lithuania became respectively the third and fourth wheat exporters to third countries, after France and Germany.
Domestically, animal feed use slightly increased by 1% compared to the previous year supported by lower prices for feed wheat and maize and an increased demand in the second part of the marketing year for dairy products.
Final cereal stocks are expected to increase by 4.7 million tonnes to reach 32.5 million tonnes. This figure is still 24% below the five-year average, but brings the stock-to-use ratio from 10.3% (end 2012) to 12.0%.
The production estimate for oilseeds is consolidated at 31.2 million tonnes in 2013-14. This figure is 3.5 million tonnes higher (+12.7%) than the low 2012-13 harvest. In particular rapeseed recorded an area increase of 8.4%, compensating the decrease in cereals area, with final production reaching 20.9 million tonnes. Sunflower production increased by 25%, reaching 9 million tonnes, driven by an area increase of 2.5% and a yield improvement of 22.3%.
Total protein crops also show an increase in production to 2.4 million tonnes (+3.9%), despite the
decline in area (-2.8%).
The forecast for the new E.U. cereal harvest indicates a production of about 303 million tonnes, which is slightly above 2013-14 and, for the second year in a row, higher than average (+5.5%).
Total cereal area is expected to increase by almost 1%, with E.U. farmers' preferred choices reflecting higher area for soft wheat (450,000 hectares, or 2 % more than last year) and maize (+1%). Barley area is projected to decrease by 6.5%, and durum wheat's negative trend is anticipated to continue.