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Harvest Focus: How Have Northern Hemisphere Cereals Fared?

Harvest Focus: How Have Northern Hemisphere Cereals Fared?

14 October 2014

ANALYSIS - The year’s cereal harvest has generally been strong with European and Ukrainian growers leading the way.

Performance in this region was critical to counter smaller crops in Northern America and result in a record wheat harvest, says the International Grains Council.

Maize/corn yields are also strong and looking likely to break records with combines still rolling in the US, analysts add. 

In terms of weather, precipitation, now slowing up corn/maize harvest in the US, was lacking in Spain and Northern China this summer but in excess across much of central Europe.

August rains helped finish US maize crops but have since delayed a stop-start harvest, according to US Department of Agriculture crop progress updates. 

A combine harvester captured during what was a 'successful' harvest for the Irkutsk region in Russia - Photo Courtesy of Russian Agriculture Ministry

Other complications include ongoing disruption to transport lines in Ukraine, underscored by analysts as a major bullish political factor.


Grain harvest totals broke 100 MMT this week with 10 per cent still to go, the Russian Agriculture Ministry has announced.

Yield per acre is up after a hot and dry summer which gripped southern Russia and much of the Black Sea Region in July and August.

Wheat performed well in general across the Commonwealth of Independent States, counteracting smaller crops in North America, the Near East Asia and a dry Australia.

Ukraine: Harvest Fine But Transport Questions Loom

Increasing diplomatic tensions in Ukraine have marred the second best harvest in history.

Strong Ukrainian barley performance underpins expectations of a lift from last year, according to US Department analysts who see good harvests in Canada and the EU counter lower production in Algeria, Azerbaijan and Australia.

However, notable crop losses post-harvest in the Crimea have resulted from protest and violence disrupting logistical infrastructure within and into the eastern regions.

This is according to the Ukrainian Grain Association which put loss of Crimea’s shipping capacities at 10 per cent.

Plans are being made to reconnect train lines in jeopardised regions i.e. Donetsk and Ludansk , assured Agriculture Minister Igor Shvaika on national television this week.

China: Effects of Drought Localised

China’s corn and wheat production is expected to be up on last year following higher plantings.
Maize/corn returns are to be 3.5 million tons higher.

This is despite a drought across northern regions affecting 5 million crop hectares, says US Department of Agriculture.

Rain is plentiful in the south with central areas a little drier and a widespread rain deficit across China’s northern half running west to east, USDA soil moisture records show.

Overall corn yield expectations are at 6.03 tons per hectare.

Rice expectations have been reduced, along with the US, meaning global production will match last year’s record level, according International Grains Council analysts.

Graph courtesy of US Department of Agriculture


European farmers have overcome some challenging weather conditions to deliver a ‘favourable’ harvest with record wheat and maize crops with barley down.

An exceptional year for maize/corn has seen nine per cent more crop grown from two per cent less acreage.

Oilseed production is also higher.

Sunflower production stayed unchanged at 9.1 Mt as Soybeans and Rapeseed lifted, according to European Commission estimates.

Europe’s two biggest cereal producers, Germany and France, grew more maize/corn, barley and wheat this year.

Questions have been raised about crop quality however, particularly in France where, like much of central Europe and the Balkans, a rain surplus was recorded through July and August.

French baking quality within the good/very good standard fell to 59 per cent from 95 per cent last year after the wettest July and August for 55 years.

In contrast, Spain’s dry summer spoiled EU maize numbers, with harvest almost a third lower.

Those experiencing wet summers have benefited from good canopy development at the price of higher possibility of plant diseases.

Polish growers have generally matched last year’s performance with Bulgaria’s harvest described as ‘excellent’ by the European Commission.

Meanwhile, ‘near perfect growing conditions’ have left UK wheat yields 16 per cent higher than last year at 8.6 tonnes per hectare, the largest annual uplift for thirty years.

The NFU caveated the survey with hang-ups about pesticide restrictions and the rise of extreme weather events going forward.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

Top image via Shutterstock

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