MADRID, SPAIN — The European Union’s grain production in marketing year 2023-24 is expected to recover from drought conditions that pushed down yields in 2022-23 as it surges to 285 million tonnes, climbing from 267 million tonnes the previous year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

“Favorable initial crop development conditions are reported across the EU, although spring rains in the EU’s southwest will be critical to replenish soil moisture and allow for yields to bounce back to average levels,” FAS Post Madrid said.

All winter grains are projected to exceed previous season planting levels. After the severe drought and the fertilizer prices hike faced by EU farmers in 2022, there is a growing interest in more drought resilient and less input intensive crops. Wheat and barley, which are more drought tolerant than corn, are expected to come forward in the crop structure.

The EU production forecast of wheat (137.8 million tonnes), corn (64.4 million), barley (53 million), rye (7.75 million), oats (7.5 million), rice (1.4 million) and sorghum (656,000), is expected to help supply total consumption which is estimated at 263.21 million tonnes.

The primary destination for grain in the EU is for animal feed, accounting on average for over 60% of the bloc’s grain consumption. The EU is expected to use 158.8 million tonnes of grain for animal feed in 2023-24, with corn, wheat and barley making up 85%.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with soaring food prices, continue to stress the EU grains balance, which has resulted in a stagnation of overall grain demand. 

The larger anticipated production is projected to reduce import needs in 2023-24 to 27.44 million tonnes, down from 35.59 million, and allow for larger grain exports of 47.44 million tonnes, up from 42.29 million.