HAMBURG (Reuters) - The recent dry weather could reduce the European Union's 2015 rapeseed crop following a record harvest last year, analysts said on Wednesday.
Rapeseed, the main oilseed for vegetable oil and biodiesel production, has suffered from a lack of rain in all top four EU producers -- Germany, France, Britain and Poland.
The EU's 2015 crop is likely fall to about 21.8 million tonnes from the record 24.6 million tonnes in 2014, Hamburg-based oilseeds analyst Oil World estimates.
"Dryness and insect damage have reduced rapeseed harvest prospects in some countries including Germany," Oil World executive director Thomas Mielke said.
"The reduced crop will raise EU rapeseed import requirements in the coming year but these may be difficult to satisfy because of smaller crops expected in some exporting countries such as Ukraine."
Germany's 2015 crop is seen falling to at least 5.1 million tonnes from 6.13 million in 2014, Oil World estimates.
France's rapeseed harvest is underway and analysts expect the dry spring to have trimmed yields well below last year's bumper level. Lower-than-average rainfall in French crop belts during the spring has been followed by high temperatures in recent days in a heatwave across France.
"More than the hot spell we're seeing at the moment, it is the dry weather during spring that will have an impact on the crop," said Benoit Fayaud, an analyst at Strategie Grains.
"Yields will be lower than last year but should still be at a decent level."
Strategie Grains expects to trim its French rapeseed crop forecast in coming days by about 100,000 tonnes to 5.2 million tonnes from 5.5 million tonnes harvested last year, Fayaud said.
Britain's rapeseed appears in reasonable condition despite dry weather which threatens to cut yields of some other crops.
Trade estimates put the UK harvest at about 2.2 million tonnes from 2.5 million tonnes last year.
"In these dry years we tend to be surprised by rapeseed yields rather than disappointed," Home-Grown Cereals Authority analyst Jack Watts said. "It should be a good average (yield) as we stand at the moment."
In Poland, dryness is causing crop forecasts to be reduced, said analyst Wojtek Sabaranski at Sparks Polska.
Sparks Polska has reduced its previous forecast by 100,000 tonnes to 2.8 million tonnes from about 3.1 million last year.
"If we manage to harvest 2.8 million tonnes of rapeseed, this would still be a decent crop," Sabaranski said.
(Reporting by Michael Hogan, Valerie Parent and Nigel Hunt, editing by David Evans)