Offre et Demande Agricole raised doubts over the better prospects for European Union rapeseed sowings forecast by some other commentators cautioning over setbacks from dryness.
The French-based analysis group, forecast rapeseed sowings in France, the EU’s top producing country, for the 2017 harvest falling 8%, to 1.36m hectares.
The estimate reflects unduly dry weather which has, ironically, dogged many major French crop growing areas, following on from persistent wetness which sent the country’s production of summer-harvested grains and oilseeds sharply lower this year.
Separately on Monday, France’s agriculture ministry cut its forecast for the domestic wheat crop this year by 200,000 tonnes to 28.0m tonnes, taking it even further below the bumper 2015 result, which was the country’s first crop above 40m tonnes.
‘Hesitating to sow’
ODA warned that in some parts of France, rapeseed sowings were likely to have tumbled by 30%.
Commentators have blamed the dryness for slow plantings also evident in winter cereals, with the official FranceAgriMer crop bureau on Friday pegging wheat sowings at 6% complete, compared with 17% a year before, with winter barley seedings at 10%, behind the 27% figure a year ago.
“Due to the very dry conditions in a good part of France, producers are hesitating to sow the winter crops,” Agritel said.
Meanwhile, ODA cautioned that some parts of Germany, the EU’s second-ranked producing country, have also been affected.
“Germany also had dry weather, so production there will also be affected and we will see a massive decrease in sowing area,” said Gautier Antoine, oilseed analyst at ODA Group.
This year’s rapeseed harvest in Germany has already declined by 8% from the previous year to 4.6m tonnes, despite a larger cultivation area.
The European Commission expects this year’s European Union rapeseed harvest to have fallen for the second time in a row to 19.9m tonnes, after significantly lower average yields this year.
Rapeseed vs wheat
The comments contrast with those two weeks ago from the International Grains Council, which forecast rises in sowings in France, Germany and indeed the EU as a whole.
“EU sowings of winter rapeseed for the 2017-18 harvest are tentatively seen slightly surpassing the previous season’s figure of 6.4m hectares, including potential increases in the major producers of Germany, France and Poland,” the council said.
It cited the lure of “attractive prices relative to wheat” during the key planting months of August and September.
Separately, on Monday Strategie Grains, in its first forecast for EU rapeseed plantings for the 2017 harvest, forecast them rising by 170,000 hectares to a three-year high of 6.70m hectares.
‘Risk of insect damage’
Concerns also surround UK sowings, which the IGC said “could decline for a fifth consecutive year on increased risk of insect damage”, extending a losing streak which has seen the country overtaken by Poland as the EU’s third-ranked rapeseed producing nation.
Many UK growers, complaining that the EU ban on neonicotinoid insecticides has left crops open to damage by cabbage stem flea beetle, have sought alternative crops.
CRM AgriCommodities said that “we anticipate a much lower planted area” of rapeseed in the UK.