EU winter grain, rapeseed yield forecasts cut on dry weather: EC

18 May 2020 | Vika Blazhko

The EU on Monday cut yield expectations of European winter wheat, barley and rapeseed after western and central Europe were hit by dry and warm weather in April.

The European Commission said in its monthly MARS report winter crops in large parts of Europe, except for northern Europe, the Atlantic region and Mediterranean countries, were all affected by the lack of soil moisture levels on the back of above-average temperatures and insufficient rains.

“As a consequence, crops biomass accumulation slowed down, with actual crop conditions generally worse than in 2019,” the EC said, adding that in most of these regions, little or no rain is forecast in the coming days, with winter cereals fast approaching the critical flowering stage.

The EU28 winter wheat yield forecast was cut 2.6% from last month’s view to 5.72 mt/ha, down 0.9% from the five-year average.

The winter barley yield estimate was lowered by 4.9% to 5.63 mt/ha, down 2% from the five-year average.

However, the biggest cut in yield prospects was for winter rapeseed with a 6.1% reduction from the April estimate to 2.95 mt/ha, down 4.4% from the five-year average.

“In the case of rapeseed, the conditions of water stress already experienced partially coincided with the flowering and/or early grain filling stage,” the EC said.

In terms of spring crops, the concerns over the lack of rainfall in April on sowing and emergence of plants in western and central Europe were mitigated.

“The limited amount of rainfall since the end of April was sufficient to facilitate the progress of sowing, and to allow for emergence,” the EU said.

However, “the emerging crops often present uneven or patchy stands due to the preceding dry conditions,” and they will require more rainfall to adequately sustain growth.

Spring barley sowing is almost completed across Europe, with dry conditions created uneven emergence in most producing countries, resulting in yield forecasts been lowered for most member states.

Nevertheless, the EU28 spring barley estimate was nudged up 0.5% on the month to 4.05 mt/ha due to an upward revision in Spain.

Corn sowing is also nearly completed in most of the major producing regions with some difficulties due to the dry soil still observed and conditions been “highly contrastful.”

At the same time, sunflower sowing has faced with some problems on the back of dry topsoils in several regions.

The corn and sunflower yields, based on historical trends, were estimated at 7.94 mt/ha and 2.34 mt/ha, respectively, down 1.2% and 2.1% from the April levels.