French farmers harvested better-quality wheat than expected north and east of Paris, making up for low protein content in the southwest and raising confidence the grain will meet export requirements.
“The quality is one we dream of in the north of France,” Maurice Caillaud, in charge of grains at Groupe AdVitam, an agricultural cooperative north of France’s capital that gathers 2.5 million metric tons of cereals and oilseeds, said by phone yesterday. “Protein is the pleasant surprise.”
France sells almost half its soft wheat abroad, and Algeria, its biggest client, demands 11 percent protein content. First cuts in the southwest raised concerns after protein averaged 10.5 percent in a region that normally exports bread wheat via the port of La Pallice on the Bay of Biscay.
Caillaud said with a third of the wheat harvested for AdVitam, the protein averaged 11.2 percent to 11.3 percent. The level for the group’s entire crop may end up around 11 percent, compared with 10.7 percent usually, he said.
In the northern Picardie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions, protein averaged 11.4 percent with half of the wheat cut, compared with 11.1 percent normally, said Nicolas Lupine, in charge of quality at Ceremis, which markets 3 million tons of grains and oilseeds for four cooperatives.
“The worries we had at the start, they’re gone,” said Clement Gautier, an analyst at Horizon Soft Commodities in Noisy-le-Grand, France, referring to lower-than-expected protein in the south. “The problems were localized.”
Lower than usual protein in the southwest, which started its soft wheat harvest before more northern areas, followed a cold and wet spring, according to Philippe Gate, scientific director at crop researcher Arvalis-Institut du Vegetal.
Dijon Cereales in Burgundy, southwest of Paris, had gathered about 80 percent of its soft wheat as of yesterday, with average protein normal at about 11.5 percent, said Mickael Mimeau, an agronomist at the cooperative.
“We have areas with interesting protein levels, 12 percent so good for the North African markets,” Mimeau said. The group usually gathers 400,000 to 500,000 tons of soft wheat.
Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, seeks at least 11.5 percent protein, while Iraq and Algeria demand 11 percent, according to Dijon Cereales. France exported 3.5 billion euros ($4.6 billion) of soft wheat last year, trade data show.
“There will be wheat of good quality, good enough to export to North Africa,” said Celine Sicard, an analyst at InVivo, a Paris-based cooperative that is the largest exporter of French wheat. “Now it’s more a question of demand.”
France’s soft wheat was 71 percent harvested as of Aug. 5, from 30 percent a week earlier and compared with 74 percent a year ago, crop office FranceAgriMer reported today.
Protein may average about 11.1 percent nationally, according to Michel Portier, the head of Paris-based farm adviser Agritel. That would still be the lowest since 2001, when the average was 10.9 percent, FranceAgriMer data show.
In the southwest, “there were serious concerns,” said Sebastien Techer, a consultant at Agritel. “The worry was that it would be similar in the north, but in terms of protein it’s normal. That’ll make good export wheat.”
Wheat proteins including gliadins and glutadins affect the baking quality of flour milled from the grain. Last year’s soft wheat crop had an average protein level of 11.4 percent, according to FranceAgriMer.
France’s soft wheat harvest is forecast to climb to 35.9 million tons this year from 35.6 million tons in 2012, according to FranceAgriMer.
French production may be as much as 37 million tons, based on better-than-expected yields in northern France, AdVitam’s Caillaud said. Yields at his cooperative are ranging from 9 to 11.5 tons per hectare (2.47 acres), he said.
Ceremis’s Lupine said yields in Picardie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais have so far averaged 8.5 to 9 tons per hectare. Picardie’s average yield was 8.27 tons per hectare last year, crop office data show. At Dijon Cereales, the yield is about 7 tons per hectare compared with 6.5 tons normally, according to Mimeau.
Specific weight, a measure of how much flour can be milled from a volume of grain, is “excellent” in the north so far at 79.1 kilograms per hectoliter (2.8 bushels), Lupine said. Contract specifications for Paris milling wheat futures call for specific weight of at least 76 kilograms.
Caillaud said specific weight for AdVitam is 78 to 81 kilograms per hectoliter, while Mimeau at Dijon Cereales reported an average 79.5 kilograms compared to about 78 kilograms usually.
“I’ve rarely seen specific weight this good at the end of collection,” Mimeau said.
The quality split between north and south may boost wheat shipments via the North Sea port of Dunkirk and Rouen on the Seine River at the expense of La Pallice, Caillaud and Sicard said. Rouen handled 45 percent of France’s seaborne soft-wheat exports in 2012-13, ahead of La Pallice and Dunkirk.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/french-wheat-quality-surprises-in-north-in-boost-to-export-hopes)