Strategie Grains lifted its forecast for the European Union wheat harvest to within 1% of last year’s record high, even as it cut its estimate for the corn crop to an eight-year low.
The influential consultancy raised by 3.6m tonnes to 155.2m tonnes its forecast for EU wheat production this year, including the harvest of durum used in making pasta.
The upgrade took the crop to just 1.5m tones below last year’s harvest, and represented a more upbeat estimate that expected by many other commentators.
The European Commission estimates the crop at 148.6m tonnes, while the US Department of Agriculture last week raised its estimate to 154.1m tonnes.
However, Strategie Grains restated that EU wheat export prospects were not nearly so strong for 2015-16, against tougher competition from Black Sea origins.
While lifting its export forecast for soft wheat – expected to account for 147.5m tonnes of the harvest – by 200,000 tonnes to 27m tonnes, that remains well below the 32.5m tonnes achieved last season.
The estimate is also below the 27.9m tonnes which the European Commission is predicting.
Weekly EU export licence data have already highlighted a slowdown, with shipments of soft wheat up to September 8 at 3.69m tonnes, down 31% year on year.
‘Penalised yield potential’
However, hopes for consumption of wheat within the EU have been underpinned by the poor prospects for the bloc’s corn harvest, raising the potential for livestock producers to employ more wheat instead in feed.
Strategie Grains cut its forecast for the EU corn harvest by 2.3m tonnes to an eight-year low of 57.4m tonnes, citing the dent to yield prospects from dry and hot weather.
“The very hot, dry conditions in August have further penalised grain maize yield potential in central and south east Europe, in particular Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia,” the Paris-based group said.
The corn crop, now seen falling 24% year on year, will come in at a yield of 6.1 tonnes per hectare, Strategie Grains said – a result, unusually, the same as expected for soft wheat.
The European Commission sees the EU corn crop coming in at 58.75m tonnes, on a yield of 6.3 tonnes per hectare.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/strat-grains-lifts-eu-wheat-crop-estimate-close-to-record-high–8781.html)