The U.S. ag attache in the European Union (EU-27) expects 2012-13 wheat production at 134.5 million metric tons (MMT), which is realized would be down just slightly from the previous year's crop of 137.5 MMT. The attache expects wheat exports to be equal to last year' at 17 MMT. Barley and corn production are expected to be up slightly from last year to result in total grain production of 284 MMT, similar to the previous year.
Moving forward, the attache says weather will be key. "With the exception of Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria where dry conditions delayed winter plantings, and Scandinavia which experienced overly wet conditions, meaning the crop in those regions was somewhat underprepared for winter, most of the EU27 experienced excellent planting conditions in the fall of 2011. This was followed by a relatively mild start to winter until a three week period of very cold weather in late January and the first half of February which affected much of the EU27," says the attache. "Snowfall was significant but windblown in places, especially in the east, but limited elsewhere. Neither set of conditions were ideal and caused much concern at the time, especially in France, with some market commentators talking of losses like those experienced in MY2003-04."
The attache continues, "It is now a widespread lack of rainfall through March and April which is starting to cause some concern. Crop development and yields are not currently reported as having been affected but rain is certainly needed, not just to improve soil moisture but also to ensure the efficacy of fertilizer applications. As previously alluded to, this is especially the case in the Iberian Peninsula but other countries in the west where snow cover was limited, notably the UK and France, are also very much in need of rain. Consequently, any factors that might have a negative effect on yield or quality are attracting significant attention from the market, not least due to the impact this will have on the EU27's exportable grain surplus."