France sees rebound in winter barley crop, rapeseed at 20-year low

Winter rapeseed production in France is likely to fall below three million tonnes for the first time in 20 years.

Winter barley production in France is expected to rebound sharply this year on the back of above-average yields, but the rapeseed crop is seen shrinking to a 20-year low after a decline in area, the Farm Ministry said recently.

In its first production forecasts for 2021, the ministry projected the winter barley crop at 7.74 million tonnes, up 19.3 per cent from last year though 6.4 per cent below the average of the past five years.

The rise in production in the upcoming harvest would be mainly due to an anticipated rise in yield to 6.41 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) from 5.52 t/ha in 2020, surpassing the five-year average, the ministry said.

The winter barley crop area is estimated to have edged up to 1.21 million hectares from 1.18 million last year.

In contrast, winter rapeseed production was forecast to fall 9.2 per cent to 2.95 million tonnes, below three million for the first time in 20 years, it said. That is 32 per cent below the five-year mean.

The average yield was expected to rise to 3.00 t/ha from 2.93 t/ha last year, but the crop area was estimated to have decreased to 984,000 hectares from 1.11 million.

Rapeseed sowing in France was disrupted by drought at the end of last summer and a poor 2021 harvest could help sustain supply tensions that led to record prices this year.

Winter rapeseed represents almost the entire rapeseed crop in France, whereas barley production includes a significant volume of spring crop.

The ministry raised slightly its projection of spring barley sowings to 600,000 hectares from 593,000 last month, still well below last year’s exceptionally high 795,000 hectares.

It also maintained its expectation of reduced sowings of other spring crops, with grain maize projected down 11.5 per cent and sunflower down 13.9 per cent.

Soft wheat, France’s main cereal that is almost exclusively a winter crop, is expected to cover 4.90 million hectares, up 15 per cent.

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