EUROPE – Recent reports from various European countries indicate a significant decline in the area of winter cereals, primarily attributed to persistent adverse weather conditions. 

According to the European Association of Trade in Cereals and other agricultural commodities, Coceral, the total grain crop in the 27 EU members plus the UK is now estimated at 295.5 million tonnes. 

Although this figure is slightly lower than the previous forecast of 296.5 million tonnes, it still represents an increase from the 292.4 million tonnes harvested in 2023.

Wheat production (excluding durum) is expected to reach 134.1 million tonnes, down from the December forecast of 139.4 million tonnes and a decrease from the 140.0 million tonnes harvested last year. 

Record rainfall late last year significantly impacted winter cereal sowing in northwestern Europe, including France, Germany, the UK, the Baltics, and Poland. However, Spain’s wheat production is anticipated to substantially increase compared to 2023.

Barley production across the EU-27+UK is forecasted to reach 61.2 million tonnes, with Denmark, Finland, and Spain expected to have better barley crops than in the previous year. Conversely, the outlook for most countries in northwestern Europe is less optimistic.

The preliminary estimate for corn crops in the EU27 stands at 64.3 million tonnes, reflecting an increase from both the December forecast and the 2023 harvest. However, the rapeseed crop is forecasted to decline to 20.2 million tonnes from last year’s 21.3 million tonnes.

The decline in the area of winter cereals is particularly notable in France, where the statistical service Agreste reported a decrease of 500,000 hectares compared to the previous season. Many farmers have been compelled to sow spring crops instead, although this has been challenging due to waterlogged and flooded land.

In the UK, the area of winter wheat and barley has decreased significantly compared to 2023, with crop condition reports indicating lower ratings than previous years.

Similar trends are observed in Germany, where the area of winter grains is at its lowest in history, primarily due to land use changes and agricultural land loss to solar panel installations.

Despite these challenges, efforts continue to mitigate the impact on grain production, but uncertainties persist regarding yield potential and input targeting due to patchy crops and ongoing wet conditions across many regions.

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