Hot, dry summer could curb EU sugar beet harvest
Scorching weather that parched farmland across northern Europe has also stressed sugar beet plants and could push yields in the European Union’s harvest well below last year’s bumper levels.
The EU’s executive had already projected a fall in sugar production in 2018/19 after heavy rain delayed spring planting, and a hot summer in top producing countries France, Germany, Poland and Britain could make the decline steeper.
But with around a month of the growing season left, sugar beet could recover if it gets more of the milder temperatures and rain that broke a heatwave last week, crop observers said.
In France, growers group CGB currently expects yields to be around the average of recent years.
“Crop conditions are very mixed, so it’s difficult to make forecasts,” the CGB’s Timothe Masson said. “But we won’t reach last year’s levels.”
Technical beet institute ITB cut its French sugar yield forecast last week to 13.6 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), down 0.3 t/ha from a month ago and versus 16 t/ha last year, stressing that non-irrigated crops had suffered from a hot, dry July.
The planted area in France is close to last year’s level at 484,000 hectares, according to the farm ministry.
The CGB was also expecting overall EU yields to fall back to the average of recent years, which could reduce the bloc’s sugar output by 1.5-2 million tonnes from just over 21 million in 2017/18, Masson added.