Mild winter keeps EU crops in good shape, focus on spring sowing
Grain crops in the European Union have avoided major damage so far this winter amid relatively mild weather, shifting market attention toward spring crops after rain prevented some autumn sowing in countries like Germany and Poland.
Analysts pointed to the usual risk of a cold snap later in winter that could hurt plants in the absence of snow cover, but generally saw no immediate threat to EU crops.
In France, the EU’s biggest grain producer, heavy rain since December has caused some concern but crop conditions were still seen as positive after very good sowing conditions.
“There are a few waterlogged fields in France but no impact yet on yield potential,” Michel Portier, head of consultancy Agritel, said. “If it hadn’t rained so much people would have been talking about a lack of moisture.”
Low rainfall last year led to drought in parts of France, notably in the southeast. However, December saw national rainfall exceed the seasonal average by 30pc and the country has also seen a wet start to January.
In its last crop update before winter, farming agency FranceAgriMer rated 95pc of soft wheat and 96pc of winter barley as good or excellent by Dec. 4.
France’s farm ministry expects the soft wheat area to remain in line with last year’s high level and also estimates that rapeseed sowings rebounded sharply.
In Germany, the absence of severe frost has been welcome for crops that endured a soggy autumn in which farmers failed to complete sowing of winter cereals and rapeseed.