Bulgaria expects record wheat output

by Holly Demaree
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – As of early August, Bulgarian grain producers completed their wheat harvest and achieved higher than anticipated yields. Based on an Aug. 7 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the country’s production forecast increased to 5.75 million tonnes for wheat.

“Favorable growing conditions and timely rainfall in May and June, as well as hot weather during harvest in July created high-quality and bumper-crop conditions for Bulgarian wheat. Improved genetics and higher use of inputs also contributed,” the report said. “Some farms in north central Bulgaria experienced hail losses following storms in early July. To date, 12,000 hectares of wheat have been officially declared as damaged, within varying degrees.”

Despite isolated hail damage, average national production remains strong, with many farmers and traders reporting record yields. The report noted yield averages in southern Bulgaria are lower than in northern regions and reports indicate that the quality of southern wheat is better. Overall, the share of milling quality wheat is reported at over 60%.

Bulgarian wheat exports started earlier this year and to date have achieved larger export volumes compared to 2016. Good harvest conditions and a strong euro are pressuring market prices downward. According to the report, big wheat yields are also creating logistical challenges, as on-farm, elevator, and port facilities are at full capacity due to abundant stocks.

Bulgarian farmers face difficulties with storage infrastructure, falling market prices, tough competition from the Black Sea region, which is exacerbated by the strong euro and lower exchange rates of major non-E.U. exporters, and the need to raise capital for the upcoming fall planting season. The report also noted that bumper crops of sunflower and corn could worsen Bulgaria’s current logistical and storage issues.

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