Wheat production in France projected to decline by 25% leading to reduced exports in 2020

FRANCE – Wheat production in France is projected to be about 31 million metric tons (MMT) in 2020, a 25% decline from 2019 production due to unfavourable weather conditions.

This is according to the Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who have also forecasted that exports will also slightly decline to 13-15 million metric tons compared to 23 million metric tons exported in 2019.

The 2019 wheat exports were particularly to Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt.

The soft wheat crop is estimated to be the third smallest in history, slightly above the disastrous 2016 crop.

Earlier forecast for the country’s soft wheat crop was approximately 34 to 36 million metric tons, which has now shifted to about 29.5 to 29.7 million metric tons.  The durum crop is estimated to be 1.3 million metric tons

The limited harvest crop is due to several factors, one being heavy rain in fall 2019 prevented sowing winter wheat in the best conditions and reducing planted areas by 0.7 million hectares (about 1 million acres).

A mild winter led to pest infestations, particularly aphids that impacted health of the crop and its development. The aphid infestation was hard for farmers to control because of the Government of France’s ban on several pesticides that are effective against those pests.

The winter was followed by a dry spring leading to moisture stress and limiting grain filling, reducing its size and weight.

The same weather patterns and pest infestation that have negatively impacted the wheat crop, has also lowered the barley crop to 11.3 million metric tons despite higher areas planted to barley.

On the other hand, the corn crop is deemed in good to excellent condition, in spite of the drought, in part because the southwest of France is less impacted by the drought and a significant part of the corn crop is irrigated.

However, the corn farmers are concerned that the persistent drought could impact the grain filling during the critical months of August and September.

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