September 13, 2018 / 10:10 AM / 2 months ago

Dryness after summer heatwave seen cutting EU rapeseed sowings

* European heatwave hinders rapeseed sowing

* Ground too dry for sowings

* France, Germany, UK, Poland all hit

HAMBURG, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Dry soil after record-breaking European summer heatwaves means farmers have been unable to plant all the rapeseed they wished, experts said on Thursday.

The ground may have been too dry for sowings in parts of the top four producers Germany, France, Britain and Poland. High grain prices after the poor European Union crop this summer also made some farmers turn to cereals from rapeseed, Europe’s main oilseed for edible oil and biodiesel production.

“We anticipate a fall in the rapeseed area, firstly because margins are less attractive than last year given the rise in prices of winter cereals, and also because weather conditions are dry all over the EU, from the south to the north,” said Hemeline Macret, of French analysts Strategie Grains.

Drought caused serious difficulties for rapeseed sowing in Germany, and analysts estimate about 1 million hectares were sown, down by about 200,000 hectares on this summer’s crop.

“The dryness created major problems for German sowings and I think a considerable number of farmers gave up and have decided to plant other grains,” one analyst said. “Seeds in a lot of areas, especially north Germany, also lack enough moisture to germinate.”

Parched land hampered rapeseed sowing in France, raising the risk that farmers will abandon some drillings.

France has experienced its second-hottest summer on record this year. A warm, dry end to summer increased the strain on cropland during rapeseed sowing.

“We’re seeing an accumulation of problems,” said Fabien Lagarde of oilseed institute Terres Inovia. “Soil preparation was mostly done in dry conditions, not all intended sowings were able to be carried out, notably in the north, and now the lack of rain is hindering the emergence of plants.”

Rapeseed crops in Britain are off to a poor start due to drought and the spread of cabbage stem flea beetles.

“Because of the drought and the flea beetle issues we could see a reduced production of oilseed rape,” said Benjamin Bodart, director at CRM AgriCommodities.

Bodart said rapeseed planting had just finished and the area was expected to be down on last season.

Flea beetles have posed a significant threat to British rapeseed after the EU restricted use of insecticides known as neonicotinoids to protect bees.

Poland also suffered dryness during the rapeseed planting window, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.

Sabaranski estimates Poland’s winter rapeseed sowings for the 2019 harvest is not larger than the 710,000 hectares harvested in 2018.

“There are now concerns over uneven sprouting due to insufficient moisture, especially in the western part of the country,” Sabaranski said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, Valerie Parent and Nigel Hunt, editing by David Stamp)

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