Heatwave ravages European fields, sending wheat prices soaring
- Heatwave, dry weather hit northern Europe and Black Sea
- Ravages wheat crops in Germany, Scandinavia
- Quality an increasing worry in top exporter Russia
- European wheat prices at more than 5-year highs
Searing heat has devastated wheat fields across northern Europe while a combination of dry conditions and extreme rain in the Black Sea have hit output estimates, with prices soaring on fears of further crop damage.
Evidence of serious harm to crops is growing as harvesting heads north in Germany, the European Union's second largest wheat producer, and in Scandinavia, prompting further cuts to estimates for the 28-member bloc.
"The situation is catastrophic in northern Europe," Strategie Grains head analyst Andree Defois said on Thursday.
The consultancy last week cut its forecast for this year's soft wheat harvest in the EU, collectively the world's largest wheat grower, below 130 million tonnes, a six-year low, and Defois said it could revise the estimate again.
France, the EU's top producer, has also experienced extreme weather, prompting forecasters to cut their estimates to around 34 million tonnes from 36.6 million harvested last year.
Scandinavia and other Baltic states have also suffered, with Sweden's wheat crop seen falling 40 percent while in Britain, where wheat crops are expected to fall to a five-year low, farmers are anxiously awaiting results as the harvest moves north.
"It's far worse than we expected," Sebastien Poncelet, analyst at Agritel said. "It has been months since it has rained in some parts of northern Europe and in Germany there should be no rain for at least another two weeks."
As harvesting progressed north Agritel revised its estimate for the European all-wheat crop by 3 million tonnes in the past week to 136.6 million tonnes, down 15 million on year, Poncelet said.