PARIS (Reuters) - The effects of a summer drought have continued to weigh on crops in the European Union despite less severe conditions in the past month, the EU’s crop monitoring service said on Monday, as it trimmed its outlook for 2018 maize and sugar beet yields.
Persistent dryness, which has hurt crops and parched grasslands across northern Europe, also poses a risk for the rapeseed that has just been sown for next year’s harvest, the MARS service said.
In its monthly update, MARS cut its forecast of the EU’s 2018 grain maize yield to 7.49 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) from 7.57 t/ha estimated last month.
This would nonetheless be 2.6 percent above the average of the last five years, helped by strong yield prospects in southern Europe, it said.
The anticipated sugar beet yield was also lowered slightly, to 73.3 t/ha from 73.8 t/ha last month, now 2.1 percent below the five-year average.
“Conditions of drought continued in central and eastern Germany and western Poland,” MARS said.
“In other parts of central and northern Europe, weather conditions have become more favorable since mid-August, but these improvements were generally too small or came too late to significantly improve the yield outlook for crops.”
The monitor had already cut its maize and sugar beet yield outlook last month.
Summer crops like maize and sunflower remained in good condition in southerly EU states, with MARS noting that decent soil moisture following July rainfall helped mitigate the impact of a hot, dry August in southeast Europe, it said.
Harvesting of maize and sugar beet is getting under way in the EU.
The estimated yield for the 2018 spring barley crop was lowered marginally, to 4.05 t/ha from 4.07 t/ha last month, leaving it 4.7 percent below the five-year average.
This led to the overall barley yield, including winter barley, being trimmed to 4.69 t/ha from 4.71 t/ha, now 4.3 percent under the five-year norm.
MARS left unchanged its estimate of this year’s soft wheat harvest at 5.70 t/ha, steady from last year but 4.5 percent below the five-year mean.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Jan Harvey