Warmer autumn helped EU winter crops

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2015 8:24 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - Winter grain and oilseed crops are generally in good shape in the European Union after unusually warm weather in the past month, with dry areas of Poland and the Baltic also benefiting from rainfall, the EU's crop monitoring unit said on Monday.

"Weather conditions in the EU have generally been favorable for the sowing of winter wheat," the MARS service said in a monthly report.

"In Poland and parts of the Baltic countries, where germination was poor and uneven due to continued drought and unusually cold conditions, conditions improved substantially and fields were re-sown in the driest areas," it said.

However, some yield losses in these areas are likely due to initial sowing difficulties and late re-sowing dates, it added.

A swathe of central and eastern EU countries from Austria across to Romania where heavy rain disrupted sowing earlier this autumn had benefited from dry conditions since mid-October, MARS said.

The unit noted the arrival of cold weather due across much of Europe from late last week, including sub-zero Celsius lows, but did not comment on potential effects on crops.

MARS left almost unchanged its yield estimates for this year's harvests in the EU.

For grain maize, harvesting of which is coming to an end, it put the average yield at 6.46 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), down slightly from 6.47 t/ha seen last month and confirming a drop of almost 21 percent compared with last year.

It raised marginally its estimate of the EU sugar beet yield to 70.59 t/ha from 70.48 t/ha last month, now down 8.3 percent compared with the 2014 crop.

The soft wheat average yield was pegged at 5.84 t/ha against 5.86 t/ha in October and down 4.9 percent from last year.

Summer crops like maize and sugar beet suffered particularly from drought and heatwaves this year, while winter grains like wheat were less affected as they were ready for harvesting when the extreme weather struck.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, editing by William Hardy)