VIENNA, AUSTRIA — A 19% drop in rapeseed area will lead to a significant decline of major oilseeds area and production in the European Union in 2019-20, according to a Sept. 17 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said if this projection of 17.8 million tonnes is realized, it will be the smallest rapeseed crop since 2007-08. The decline in rapeseed acreage, from 6.9 million hectares in 2018-19 to 5.6 million this year, is due to drought during planting in the summer and fall of 2018, insufficient precipitation the following winter and spring, and high pest pressure in some areas of France, Germany, Bulgaria and the United Kingdom, the USDA said.

“Significant areas were replanted with other spring crops,” the USDA said. “In summer 2019, drought and extremely high temperatures hit most of the major rapeseed production regions in central and northern Europe.”

Although sunflower and soybean production are forecast to increase by 3% and 1%, respectively, the 19% fall in rapeseed production means that overall oilseeds output in the E.U. in 2019-20 is projected to be down by nearly 6% year on year, the USDA said, falling from 32.4 million tonnes in 2018-19 to 30.5 million tonnes.

“Soybean production increases are due to higher yields per hectare, whereas sunflower production increases are due to increased acreage in Romania, France, Spain and Bulgaria,” the USDA said.

The USDA also noted that imports of soybeans and soybean crushing are expected to decrease in 2019-20 with soybean meal imports increased to satisfy the demand in the growing poultry sector.