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Good UK Summer Buoys Supplies but Balance Remains Tight

05 November 2013
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

UK - With some Member States starting to publish provisional harvest estimates for 2013 and with much improved weather in the summer months, the total market year (MY) 2013/14 EU-28 grain crop is revised up to 301 million metric tonnes (MMT), 2 MMT above previous expectations and the largest harvest since the record crop of 2008.

Both the barley and rye harvests are over 0.5 MMT up on previous estimates. Larger than previously forecast wheat and oats crops are also now expected.

The corn harvest forecast is unchanged although this masks mixed fortunes for the crop in a number of Member States. The focus is now turning to usage within the EU-28 and the implications for trade.

A cold, and in parts very wet, spring delayed both crop development and plantings but ultimately the EU-28 grain crop benefitted from the good growing and harvesting conditions over what became a long summer.

Indeed, most of the concerns for the crops earlier in the season were soon abated with crops in France and Germany and also in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all benefitting from the excellent conditions.

Additionally, the early season wet weather was very beneficial for the crops in Spain. The late harvest this year could have an impact on MY2014/15 but, thus far, good weather has seen plantings commence apace and the sentiment remains positive. For wheat, the good weather came too late for the reduced wheat area in the UK but the yield was much improved on a year earlier, nearer the long term average, and the quality is described as good.

Elsewhere, the weather boded well for wheat yields in France and Germany and also in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The early season wet weather was also very beneficial for the Spanish wheat crop.

Quality is described as generally good. While year-on-year imports are forecast little changed, an increase in Italian third country imports is offset by a decline in the Spanish requirement. On the wheat demand side, total Food, Seed & Industrial (FSI) use is still forecast to fall year-on-year, due to the significantly reduced industrial use in France not being fully offset by marginal increases in the Benelux.

The improved availability of feed wheat within the EU-28 will see consumption rise year-on-year, particularly in France and Spain, consumption in the latter having hit bottom in MY2012/13. On third country export markets, EU-28 wheat exports have got off to a prompt start, most notably to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt and South Korea. France has also reported early season sales to China. Total EU-28 wheat exports are currently forecast to reach 23 MMT in MY2013/14.

Indeed, while carry-in stocks from MY2012/13 were just 10 MMT, the demands for EU-28 wheat mean that only a 2.5 MMT increase in stocks is currently forecast through MY2013/14. For barley, like wheat, the summer saw the fortunes for the crop improve across much of the EU-28. While a number of countries saw their harvest forecasts exceeded, of most note was the record high yield seen in Spain.

The increase in EU-28 supplies means third country exports from the two main suppliers, France and Germany, are forecast up, both year-on-year and as compared to previous expectations, at 5.5 MMT. The increase in Spanish supplies is forecast to see higher feed use in that region in MY2013/14.

Despite an increase in the forecast use of barley in feed in Ireland and the UK as well, overall EU-28 feed use in MY2013/14 is unchanged, albeit up 1.5 MMT year-on-year. This is mainly due to a reduction in forecast feed use in France which is expected to see a switch to wheat and corn.

Further Reading

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