• Overall early estimates slightly lower than previous forecasts, but no disasters.  In many places yields down on last year.
  • Russia seeing serious variability but high protein wheat being cut with little being sold off farm.
  • French soft wheat is looking like 15-20% down compared to last year, barley 10% down vs. last year.
  • Romania is reporting disappointing yields, with official estimates appearing to underestimate the production decrease.
  • Poland – yet to start in earnest – but likely to be highly variable, official estimates of small increase in overall production.
  • Germany – estimates of 3% down on wheat, which is likely to be an underestimate based on reports, barley down 10% due to reduced planting area and lower yield.

Russia

Variability appears to be the key word in relation to reported yields thus far in Russia.  In the south there are some very poor figures being reported in specific areas that missed the rain, and also some reasonable figures on better soil types.  Protein levels are high but few producers are sellers at current prices (Egypt bought 114 TMT at $212, up $6.50/MT from the previous week).  SovEcon have lowered overall production to 79.7 MMT, down 1.1 MMT from last month but still 4% above USDA estimates of 76.5 MMT which are 1% down from last month, but up 4% from last year. The forecast includes 56.0 M t of winter wheat and 20.5 M t of spring wheat. Russia’s increased spring wheat area has helped to slightly offset the reduction in winter wheat plantings.

USDA estimate wheat yields at 2.76 tons per hectare, down 1% from last month, but up 3% from last year. The first cut fields in southern Russia were reported to be 26% down on last year. However, with harvest progressing, yields are improving and now reaching almost 20% completion.  

Ukraine

All regions have now started with reports of good yields – although not as good as last year – particularly in the west and Ukraine’s Agriculture ministry predicts a crop of at least 68M t, although this would still be lower than last season’s record 75.1M t.

2.4 M ha of wheat has been harvested against vs. about 3.5 M ha last year at the same date. As expected, the average yield is progressing rapidly as harvest gains momentum. It is already at the same level as last year in the same areas. The WASDE report left Ukraine wheat production unchanged at 26.5 M t, down more than 9% compared to the 2019/20 season.

For barley, the average yield is currently over 3.5 t/ha, which is higher than last year’s results for comparable harvested areas. Over half the area has been cut and 4.6 M t produced. The consultancy firm ProAgro has reduced its predictions for Ukraine’s 2020 barley harvest outlook to 7.64 M t from 8.16 M t previously, a 17% decrease on last year.

Local analysts expect Ukraine to produce 2.7-3 M t of rapeseed during the 2020/21 marketing year, down from last year’s 3.5 M t. Less than half the area has been cut with c 1 Mt harvested. Even if conditions in the west of the country are good, the 2020 harvest looks likely to be under 3 M t.

France

The French soft wheat harvest is nearing 50% completion, up from 16% last week and ahead of 26% finished at this stage last year, production is now estimated at 31.59 MMT, which is 8 MMT down on last year. The forecast for 2020 was based on a projected yield of 7.11 t/ha, down from 7.91 last year, and a cultivated area of ​​4.41 M Ha, down from 5 M Ha.  

For barley the French Ministry of Agriculture forecasts a 2020 harvest of 12.33 MMT, down 10.3% from last year, although 1.8% above the five-year average. This includes a reduced estimate of the winter barley harvest, which now stands at 7.80 MMT, some 5% down on the initial forecast of 8.17 M t in June, and spring barley production estimated at 4.53 MMT.

French Rapeseed harvest is in full swing, production is forecast by the farm ministry at 3.4 M t, nearly 4% smaller than an already modest 2019 harvest and almost 30% below the five-year average.

Romania

Based on Autumn plantings and weather conditions, Romanian grain production is forecast to decline in 2020/21 by 2.6%, despite the 2.2% increase in the area planted.  USDA estimates the 2020/21 planted area for wheat is 2.2 M Ha, a 5.2% increase over the previous year. The higher wheat area is partially attributed to the decline in Romania’s rapeseed area. Yields are expected lower this year due to continued dry weather, notably in some of Romania’s most productive counties in its south eastern and eastern regions. Potential production increases in other areas are not expected to offset these reductions.

Reports on the ground are of generally of disappointing wheat yields with huge variability depending on specific locations.  Average wheat yields are forecast to decline by 8% in 2020/21 from the previous year but this would be appear to underestimate the situation being reported on the ground. 

Poland

Harvest has started to a small degree in the south but is yet to begin in earnest in the major producing regions. 

Total Polish wheat, rye, mixed grains, triticale, barley, corn, and oat production in marketing year 2020/21 is estimated to be 30.7 MMT by USDA, a 6.3% increase over 2019/20. Through mid-March 2020, Poland experienced extremely dry conditions, which threatened spring grains. However continuous rainfall witnessed in June has influenced final yields. Sparks Polska predict a minor variation in the Polish wheat crop this year which is expected to reach 11.1 M t whilst the USDA predict 11.7M t which would equate to a 6% increase on last year’s crop. Poland’s rapeseed crop is estimated at 2.75 MMT – 2.8 MMT, up 3-4% on last year assuming average yields.

Germany

German Farm Cooperatives forecast the country’s 2020 wheat harvest will fall 2.6% year on year to 22.46 MMT, although crops have benefited from June rain. The estimate is up from 22.21 MMT in its last forecast in June, as crop development has been boosted by rain in past weeks after a dry spring.

The heavy rain Germany has experienced in the past two weeks has assisted rapeseed yields, but a return of dry, sunny weather was urgently needed with harvest approaching. Forecasts for the main winter rapeseed crop are 3.21 MMT, an increase of 13.7% compared to last year’s poor harvest.

Barley is expected to be c. 0.9 MMT (approximately 10%) down on the previous year due to smaller planted area (1.32 M ha -2.3%) and 7% lower yields due to rain arriving too late.

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