French Wheat Set for Comeback After Worst Harvest in Decades

December 16, 2016 01:05 PM
 
wheat field

After the worst French wheat crop in decades this season, the European Union’s largest producer looks set to return to global export markets.

Output of soft wheat is expected to jump by about a third to 37.7 million metric tons in the season starting July, according to estimates from Tallage, publisher of the Strategie Grains report. That will lead production increases in the EU, lifting shipments.

"France should be back in the world market," Andree Defois, president of Moret sur Loing, France-based Tallage, said by phone. "The acreage planted in wheat by French farmers is slightly up compared with last season and also we are expecting a recovery to the yield trend."

The rebound is expected after a poor quality harvest and the smallest tonnages since 1993 following a deluge of rain in May and June, according to Tallage. France sold nothing to top buyer Egypt this season as exports have collapsed to the lowest in at least 16 years, Tallage said.

"Both volumes and quality are not good this season," Defois said.

Tallage forecasts output in Germany, the second-largest producer, of 25.7 million tons, an increase of 1 million tons. It predicts Poland will expand by 500,000 tons to 10.7 million tons. Harvests in the Benelux and Baltic countries will grow, too.

The increases will bring soft-wheat output in the bloc’s 28 countries to 145 million tons, a 7 percent increase, according to the report published Thursday. Grain output from the EU is set to rise 3.7 percent to 306.6 million tons in the 2017-18 season. The EU’s production of durum wheat, used in pasta, will fall 9 percent to 8.7 million tons as acreage shrinks.

Tallage’s estimates include acreage already sown and farmers’ plans for planting. Winter-cereal sowings were nearing completion across the EU as of last week, it said.

Ample supplies around the world have curbed wheat prices, with the grain down 13 percent and heading for a fourth straight annual decline. Wheat for delivery in March fell 0.3 percent at $4.08 1/4 a bushel in Chicago, while the EU contract in Paris dropped 0.8 percent to 166.25 euros ($173.90) a ton.

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