Sharp drop in French corn conditions at flowering stage

  • Market: Agriculture
  • 29/07/22

French corn crop conditions slid below the five-year average in the week to 25 July, showing the short-term impact of record temperatures across the country earlier in the week. Ratings are likely to deteriorate further throughout the summer months.

Agricultural and sea products agency FranceAgriMer rated just over two-thirds of the French crop "good to excellent" as of 25 July, down from three-quarters a week earlier.

Temperatures of above 40°C on 18-19 July coincided with the vast majority of French corn having reached the flowering stage, when the crop is most susceptible to heat stress.

The continued week-on-week decline in conditions brings the 2022-23 crop far below the standards of a year earlier, when FranceAgriMer rated 90pc of crop as "good to excellent". Over the past five years, corn conditions were on average rated as 72pc "good to excellent" in late-July, with conditions typically continuing to decline into early September.

Meanwhile, the proportion of corn rated "poor to very poor" grew by 3 percentage points in the week to 25 July, with 10pc judged at this condition, compared with just 1pc a year earlier.

Conditions across the country were mixed, with the eastern regions of Alsace and Champagne-Ardenne close to or above last year's ratings. In contrast, conditions were particularly poor in the Rhone-Alpes, Occitanie, Aquitaine and Centre-Val de Loire regions.

French corn remains susceptible to extreme temperatures in the coming weeks, with 92pc having reached the flowering stage and in the process of forming grains as of 25 July.

Deteriorating French corn conditions will likely lower yields and add to an already poor outlook for European corn production as a whole, with crops across the north Atlantic unlikely to offer any reassurance for those short of supply. Temperatures in parts of the US corn belt are forecast to top 100°F — 38°C — early next week, just as over two thirds of the crop reach the silking stage in several growing states.

Spring barley conditions also slid on the week, with the proportion rated "good to excellent" falling by 2 percentage points to 48pc, while the proportion rated "poor to very poor" remained stable at 19pc. Conditions are markedly below last year's crop at the same point last year, when FranceAgriMer rated 81pc as "good to excellent" and just 3pc in the poorest categories. Harvesting reached over 90pc completion in all regions except Hauts-de-France, where one-third of the crop was still in the fields. This compares with an average of 35pc harvested a year earlier.

The soft wheat harvest was over 90pc complete in all regions except Normandy and Hauts-de-France as of 25 July, compared with an average of 42pc completion a year earlier. Wheat in these northern regions is understood to be of a lower protein content this season, allowing for greater yields. Chinese buyers last week showed significant interest in low-protein wheat from northern France as the crop competes with corn for use in animal feed.

On hard wheat, farmers in all regions had finished harvesting as of 25 July, compared with 82pc harvested a year earlier.


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