BERLIN, GERMANY — Significantly affected by a severe drought, Germany is expected to sharply increase imports of soybeans and soybean meal and to become a net grain importer in the coming months, according to a Sept. 24 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) recently issued a preliminary estimate for the 2018 grain and winter rapeseed crops. It put grain production (excluding corn) at 34.5 million tonnes, compared to 41 million tonnes a year ago. Germany’s corn crop was more severely impacted, as BMEL forecasts a 50% reduction in production compared to a year ago, which would be the lowest output since 1994 and is mainly a result of the drought in the northern and eastern regions of the country.

Rapeseed production, according to BMEL, is forecast to drop to 3.6 million tonnes compared to 4.3 million last year, which would make it the smallest rapeseed crop in 15 years.

The USDA said use of domestic grains and rapeseed meal in feed ratios is set to decrease in Germany in the remainder of 2018 and for at least half of 2019.

“This is partly because of higher compound feed use,” the USDA said. “The latter is a result of the lower on-farm forage production.”

It said domestic feed will be replaced by soybean meal and sunflower meal as well as grains from the E.U. and non-European countries. This is expected to boost soybean and soybean meal imports and soybean crush.

“The U.S. is set to become the top source of soybeans for Germany due to supply and competitive prices,” the USDA said.

Recently, the drought was officially declared “a weather incident of national extent,” enabling the German government to award financial support to over 10,000 farms in Germany.