World Agriculture: France cuts estimate of rapeseed area

May 07, 2013

The French farm ministry on Monday cut its estimate of the area sown with rapeseed for this year’s harvest after farmers dug up some crops that had suffered from heavy rain. Analysts have been expecting the fall in area to cost France its place as the European Union’s top rapeseed producer this year, with Germany forecast to regain the leading position after enjoying more favourable growing conditions.

Rapeseed Area
Rapeseed Area

The rapeseed area in France is now estimated at 1.48 million hectares, down from 1.52 million seen last month and now 8 percent lower than the 2012 level, the farm ministry said. The Centre region, Poitou-Charentes in the west and Lorraine in the north-east accounted for 90 percent of a decrease of about 128,000 hectares compared with last year, it said.

“Due to the heavy rain during winter, rapeseed in these zones experienced difficulties in plants establishing themselves and emerging, leading in some cases to plots being dug up,” the ministry said in a monthly crop report. Like other oilseed crops, rapeseed is used to produce edible oil, alternative fuel biodiesel and livestock feed. In a first estimate for this year’s French grain maize crop, the farm ministry put the area at 1.64 million hectares, down 0.4 percent from last year but up 0.8 percent from the average of the past five years. As of May 1, 46 percent of the projected area had been sown, down from 54 percent a year earlier, it said.

Cold weather in late March and early April delayed sowing of spring crops like maize and spring barley in Europe, although warmer conditions since have allowed field work to accelerate. Farm office FranceAgriMer said in a weekly update that 57 percent of grain maize had been sown as of April 29, up from 29 percent the prior week and close to 60 percent a year ago. For soft wheat, the farm ministry raised its estimate to 4.98 million hectares from 4.97 million last month, leaving the area up 2.4 percent on year.

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