FRANCE — The drought experienced during the 2022 spring season in France is coming back to haunt corn farmers with many reporting declines in yield as a result of the lower-than-average precipitation experienced at the time.

A report from France’s farm ministry shows that the country will reap 10.74 million tonnes of corn, the lowest production since 1990.

Excluding crop grown for seeds, grain maize output is now seen at 29% lower than last year’s bumper crop and 21% below the average of the past five years, the ministry said.

The new forecast was based on a projected yield of 7.89 tonnes per hectare, down from 8.18 tonnes per hectare estimated last month and 1.5 tonnes per hectare below the five-year average, the ministry said.

“This drop in yields, linked to the summer drought, is more affecting non-irrigated grain maize … but has not spared irrigated crop,” the ministry said in a report.

Maize is among the crops to have suffered most from France’s worst drought on record, which was accompanied by several heatwaves.

Other crops that suffered from inadequate rainfall include the country’s main cereal crop soft wheat and oil seeds.

As a result of the drought, the ministry has downgraded its soft wheat production forecast to 33.66 million tonnes from 33.69 million tonnes expected last month, nearly 5% lower than last year’s volume.

For oilseeds, its estimates for the rapeseed and sunflower seed harvests were unchanged at 4.51 million and 1.83 million tonnes, respectively.

China expecting near-record soybean crop

Meanwhile, China is expecting a near-record soybean production in the 2022-23 marketing year, a report from the Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown.

USDA forecasts the Asian country’s soybean production to reach a near-record 19 million tonnes on higher yields which are estimated at 2.03 tonnes per hectare, up 4% from the previous year.

“Government incentives for oilseed production (particularly soybeans), high prices for major oilseeds, and grown conditions in major soybean-producing regions drove increases in area and yield,” the USDA said.

Total oilseed production — which includes rapeseed, peanuts and cottonseed — is projected at 64.5 million tonnes, up 800,000 tonnes from the previous USDA forecast.

As production skyrockets, Reuters, citing customs data, has reported that China imported 4.14 million tonnes of soybean in October, the lowest level for any month since 2014 this October.

The 19% year-on-year drop was attributed to high global prices and poor crush margins which made trading in the commodity unprofitable for many buyers.

Despite the fall in imports, China remains to be the world’s largest consumer of soybeans, with domestic consumption expected to reach 116 million tonnes in 2022-23, up from 106 million tonnes the previous year, according to the USDA.

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