REUTERS - Drought and disruptive rainfall across Europe and former Soviet Union republics have forced producers to revise down their 2010 wheat crop forecasts.
Russia, Europe’s biggest wheat producer, is likely to face a sharp fall in wheat output this year.
The European Union could lose just 0.2 percent in wheat harvest, while Ukraine’s production could fall 11-15 percent.
Following are details of the drought and rainfall effects on wheat harvest in leading European producers.
A severe drought with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) has hit Russian grain growing regions, which normally account for almost a half of the country’s grain crop. And the heat continues.
So far 27 regions have declared a state of emergency due to drought, which is estimated to have destroyed crops on some 11 million hectares, equal to the area of Hungary or Portugal or about one fifth of the total sown area.
SovEcon agricultural analysts have said that the country’s grain crop may fall below 70 million tonnes this year, down from 97 million tonnes in 2009.
SovEcon estimates that the wheat crop may decline to between 43 million and 44 million tonnes this year from 61.7 million in 2009. Last month the consultancy predicted the wheat crop at between 47 million and 48 million tonnes.
The International Grain Council in a monthly report cut its forecast for Russia’s 2010/11 wheat crop by seven million tonnes to 50 million.
French analyst Strategie Grains expects the 27-member bloc’s soft wheat production for the 2010/2011 campaign at 129.5 million tonnes, below the 129.8 million tonnes harvested last year.
Earlier this month, the analyst cut by 3.6 million tonnes its monthly estimate for the European Union’s 2010 soft wheat crop to reflect the impact of a recent heat wave in some Western EU countries and excessive rain in the East.
The bulk of Strategie Grains’ lower wheat forecast concerned Germany, the Benelux countries, France, Poland and Britain where a heat wave hit wheat plants at the end of growth, affecting yield potentials, it said.
Germany, which faced temperatures climbing towards 40 degrees Celsius in some regions early July, saw its 2010 soft wheat crop estimate this year cut by over 1.1 million tonnes to 24.1 million tonnes, against 25.12 million last year.
Germany’s farm cooperatives group expects the total wheat harvest to fall to around 23.8 million tonnes from 25.19 million tonnes last year.
Germany’s leading grain trading house Toepfer International now forecasts Germany’s 2010 wheat crop at between 23 million and 24 million tonnes, down from 25.19 million tonnes in 2009.
The German farmers’ association has warned of a fall in wheat yields of between 10-20 percent this year.
Strategie Grains also cut its soft wheat crop forecast for France, the EU’s largest wheat producer, by 370,000 tonnes from June to 35.1 million tonnes against 36.2 millions in 2009.
French farm ministry and French farm office FranceAgriMer see the crop at 35.3 million tonnes.
Bulgaria’s Agriculture Ministry has lowered its estimate for 2010 wheat crop to 3.5 million tonnes due to extensive rains. The country previously expected a wheat harvest of about 4 million tonnes this year.
Bulgaria harvested about 4.0 million tonnes of wheat in 2009.
Despite the drop, Bulgaria will still have a chance to export wheat as its domestic needs stood at about 2 million tonnes in the 2010/11 season.
Romania’s Agriculture Ministry’s official said the country was likely to harvest 5.8 million tonnes of wheat in 2010.
Black Sea grain producer Romania had originally expected to harvest 6.7 million tonnes of wheat this year compared with 5.2 million in 2009.
Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry has said the 2010 wheat crop is likely to fall to 17 million tonnes from 20.9 million in 2009 due to rainfalls in eastern and southern regions and extreme heat.
Heavy rains have delayed harvesting and lead to a smaller wheat yields.
Ukraine’s wheat crop averaged 18 million tonnes in 2004-2008.
Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said last month the wheat crop could include 9 million tonnes of milling wheat while Ukraine needs a total of 5.4 million tonnes of milling wheat to meet its own food needs.
UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy reduced its forecast to 17.75 million tonnes from its previous estimate of 18.60 million and cut the 2010/11 wheat exports outlook to 5.95 million tonnes from 7.10 million.
Ukrainian Agribusiness Club has also cut its wheat harvest forecast for 2010 to 17.50 million tonnes from 18.06 million and reduced the exports forecast to 6 million tonnes from 6.8 million.
UkrAgroConsult forecast that food wheat could amount to about 6 million tonnes, the volume that Ukraine traditionally consumes, and an absence in surplus could prompt the government to limit milling wheat exports in the second half of the 2010/11 season.
Analysts say Ukraine may export up to 6 million tonnes of wheat in the 2010/11 season against 9.2 million in 2009/10.
Kazakhstan, among the world’s top 10 wheat exporters, said that its grain harvest, though likely to fall sharply from last year’s record, will not be abnormally low in 2010 as key grain-growing regions have been relatively unscathed by drought.
Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbayev forecast on July 20 that Kazakhstan’s gross grain harvest would fall to between 13.5 million tonnes and 14.5 million tonnes in 2010, up to 35 percent below the record 20.8 million tonnes last year.
But officials point out that last year’s high crop was an anomaly. Kazakhstan harvested 15.6 million tonnes in 2008.
Wheat amounts about 90 percent of the total grain harvest.
Kazakhstan expects a 2010 wheat crop of about 10 million tonnes, while its exportable grain surplus in the current marketing year will be between 6 million and 7 million tonnes, down from 8.3 million tonnes in the 12 months to June 30, 2010.
The International Grain Council in a monthly report said wheat crop in Kazakhstan was seen at 13.5 million tonnes, down from 16.5 million projected a month ago.
Moldova’s Farm Ministry sees the 2010 wheat crop at 850,000 tonnes compared with 770,000 in 2009. It said weather losses were insignificant.
(Writing by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Alison Birrane)
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