Dry weather hampers E.U. crop outlook

by Arvin Donley
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LONDON, ENGLAND — Dry conditions since April in much of the European Union has reduced grain yields in many of the 28 Member States, especially in spring crops, according to an Aug. 1 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“With mixed fortunes in the fall and over winter, weather has once again proved the biggest challenge for the E.U.-28 grains crop,” the USDA said. “Overall, prospects for yields are down on previous expectations and the view on quality is mixed.”

The total 2018-19 E.U.-28 grain crop is currently forecast to reach 296.5 million tonnes, below expectations earlier in the year and nearly 31 million tonnes lower than the record set in 2014-15, the report said.

“While rain has now arrived in Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, it is too late for most crops, with the exception of corn, and is causing disruption to the harvest,” the USDA said. “With it remaining dry in France and the U.K., the quality outlook in these two countries remains more uncertain but yields are certainly down on previous expectations.

“Spain, once again, appears to be the exception to the rule, having experienced a much wetter growing season than normal, delaying harvest but generally positive for crop development and production.”

Total supply of grain in the E.U.-28 in 2018-19 is forecast at 346.3 million tonnes, down 7.3 million tonnes year on year, while total grain consumption for the region is put at nearly 288 million tonnes, including 115 million for food, seed and industrial use.

“Increased food use of wheat in France in 2017-18 was a factor in the ongoing rise but it is increasing use of corn in the industrial sector in Austria, Spain and Hungary that has been a consistent driver and is forecast to continue to be a significant factor in 2018-19,” the USDA said.

The agency noted a significant expansion in Hungary’s corn processing capacity in recent years, including the construction of a new processing plant in October 2017.

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