PARIS, FRANCE — In its first forecast of the wheat harvest season, France’s farm office reported soft wheat production will be 32.895 million tonnes, down 7.2% from last year.

As of July 1, FranceAgriMer also projected total barley production – both winter and spring crops – at 11.177 million tonnes, down 2.4% from last year.

This year’s soft wheat harvest, which got off to an early start in southern regions in June, had been expected to bring a lower yield than average as hot, dry weather hurt crops in some areas. French farmers had harvested 14% of this year’s soft wheat crop by July 4 against 5% a week earlier, FranceAgriMer said July 8.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has stalled sea exports of its grain and complicated trade with Russia due to Western sanctions, has put a greater focus on supplies from the European Union and particularly France as importing nations scramble to find alternatives.

France is the EU’s top wheat exporter and fourth largest in the world with nearly 20 million tonnes shipped in 2020. With wheat prices starting to decline from near record highs, Egypt in late June booked its largest wheat tender in more than a decade at 815,000 tonnes to increase stockpiles, and France was the largest supplier of that tender.