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European Commission Foresees Above Average Cereals Harvest

by 5m Editor
8 August 2008, at 8:01a.m.

Favourable weather conditions and an increase in the planted area farmed should lead to a total cereals harvest close to 301 million tonnes for this year in the European Union, 43 million tonnes more than in 2007.

This represents an increase of 16 per cent on the 2007 harvest and 9 per cent on the past five years' average production.

This forecast, published today by the European Commission, is based on an updated analysis by the Commission's in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), using an advanced crop yield forecasting system.

The yield forecast for cereals is 5 tonnes per hectare across the EU and thus significantly higher than last year and the average over the past five years.

The total EU27 area used for cereals in 2008 is estimated to have increased by 5 per cent compared to 2007, due to a 0 per cent set-aside rate and high cereals prices.

Looking at individual crop figures across the EU27 over the past five years and as of August 5th 2008, the latest yield forecasts show the following trends:

  • soft wheat:5.6 t/ha (+4.8 per cent)
  • durum wheat: 3.1 t/ha (+12.8 per cent)
  • barley: 4.4 t/ha (+5.7 per cent)
  • grain maize: 6.9 t/ha (+9.5 per cent)
  • rape seed: 2.9 t/ha (-2,1 per cent)
  • sunflower: 1.6 t/ha (+1.7 per cent)
  • potato: 26.5 t/ha (-1.1 per cent)
  • sugar beet: 70.3 t/ha (+19.0 per cent)

The greatest increase is for sugar beet, cultivated mainly in northern Europe, with the main producers Germany and France, which benefited from favourable meteorological conditions, increasing yield forecasts significantly.

Maize yield is expected to be 20.1 per cent higher than last year and 9.5 per cent higher than the past five years' average, with very high yield increases for Romania (+122 per cent), Bulgaria (+193 per cent) and Hungary (+94 per cent), countries that had been suffering from drought last year.

The winter of 2007/2008 was rather mild, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, but cooler than the exceptionally mild winter of 2006/07. Temperatures followed a seasonal course with warmer average temperatures compared to the long term average (period 1975–2007) for Central and Eastern Europe.

June and July have been slightly cooler for France, northern Spain and the United Kingdom, representing favorable conditions for still active crops.

Rainfall throughout the season has been abundant and well distributed for Spain but has led to over-wet situations in France and northern Italy.

On the other hand, northern Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark experienced a long lasting dry period starting in spring and continuing into June 2008, coupled with some high temperatures. This situation has impacted primarily upon winter crops and led to lower production and local failures.

In spite of heavy rainfall at the end of July in Romania, overall weather conditions for the countries hit by last year's drought have been good.

5m Editor