‘Bumper’ European harvest on the way but grain quality is set to take a hit

The upcoming European cereal harvest could be the third bumper crop in a row, according to the European Commission’s short-term outlook.

It says that despite the recent heavy shows that have affected the main grain producing regions across the EU, indications suggest that main cereal crops will produce high yields this year.

Overall, this may result in yields above the past five-year average, particularly for soft wheat (+4%), durum wheat (+2%), barley (+7%) and maize (+6%).

But, these yields are expected to be lower than the record yields produced during the 2015-2015 period.

According to the Commission, spring weather conditions may have a negative impact in some important cereal producing regions.

It says that a cold spell in April combined with excessive rainfall in late May and early June has caused some concern in large parts of western Europe.

European cereal planting changes:
  • Barely: +362,000 hectares
  • Durum wheat: +136,000 hectares
  • Rye: +177,000 hectares
  • Soft wheat: -205,000 hectares
  • Maize: -328,000 hectares

Humid conditions in France may increase the risk of diseases and lodging, while local storms have damaged 40,000 hectares of cereals in Germany.

There are therefore concerns about the quality of grains and the share of feed wheat could increase, it says, but the impact will also depend on the weather conditions at harvest time.

According to the IFA Grain Market update, the French winter barley harvest has been very disappointing.

Both yield and quality has been badly affected due to incessant wet weather during the critical filling stage.

Bushel weights which normally range from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s are struggling to hit 55kph to 60kph indicating a very high level of screenings.

Rejections for winter malting barley are running very high and all of this will end up on the feed market, the IFA reports.

Irish situation

Tillage farmers are facing negative returns on many crops this year, as projected prices fall short of the cost of production.

While crops are reasonably clean this year, according to Teagasc, a potential record harvest in the US will not bode well for tillage farmers here.

Teagasc Tillage Specialist Michael Hennessy said that yields of 4.2t/acre for winter wheat and 4.1t for winter barley would be needed just to break even.

“There is is good potential for winter wheat and barley, but it would be remarkable if we had another record year.

“Winter wheat is looking good, but last year was a cool year and it suited the development of grain. Grain will thrive in cool but bright sunshine. This year is a little warmer and crops are coming in a little quicker.”