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EU wheat harvest makes progress in better weather

EU wheat harvest makes progress in better weatherHAMBURG: Wheat harvesting has made rapid progress in the last week in leading European Union producers and some crop forecasts are being raised, analysts said on Thursday.

In the EU’s biggest wheat producer France, harvesting is virtually finished, with a consensus that France would achieve a record crop size and decent quality.

Harvesting is being completed in final northern regions and yields continued to show wheat was not hurt by hot, dry weather which stressed maize.

French analysts Strategie Grains on Thursday raised their French soft wheat crop estimate by almost 1 million tonnes to 38.7 million tonnes, up from 37.5 million last year and surpassing a record 38.2 million seen in 1998.

“The excellent yield potential of the soft wheat, and the fact that an advanced physiological maturity had already been reached when temperatures peaked meant that yield potentials were preserved despite the very dry weather at the end of the growth cycle,” Strategie Grains said in a report. Like other observers, it said French crop quality was much improved compared with a rain-damaged 2014 harvest, with good results for quality standards such as test weights and Hagberg falling numbers, but with slightly weak protein levels.

“Protein content values are satisfactory but slightly below expectations at between 10.5 and 11 percent,” it said. In the second largest producer Germany, harvesting made rapid progress this week despite some showers interrupting work.

“Showers were followed by high temperatures which dried out wheat before damage took place,” one analyst said. “If weather remains dry I think the harvest could be over next week.”

“Harvest quality has been surprisingly good and I think more of the crop than expected will reach milling standard.”

In Britain, the EU’s third largest producer, harvesting has been advancing over the past week in generally good weather. About a quarter of the wheat crop has now been harvested, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board estimates.

“Certainly, yields seem to be pretty positive at this point,” said Jack Watts, lead cereals and oilseeds analyst at AHDB.

“The impact of the dry weather that we had at the end of June and early July does not seem to be showing much of an impact.”

Harvesting in Britain is expected to be complete by mid to late September. The International Grains Council forecasts Britain’s wheat crop at 15.3 million tonnes, lower than last season’s 16.6 million tonnes but still above the five-year average of 14.4 million tonnes.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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