French soft wheat areas to fall to a low in 2024: Argus

  • Market: Agriculture
  • 20/12/23

Planted areas for French soft wheat are expected to fall to their lowest this side of the millennium, after two months of heavy rain undermined crop conditions.

Argus estimates the planted acreage for France's next soft wheat crop at 4.238mn hectares (42,380km²), based on results from its annual survey of French crop planting. Argus collected feedback from more than 1,200 farmers across France during the week of 7-14 December.

The figures include an estimated 54,500ha of late planting that farmers are due to sow in the coming days, and overall represent a drop of 530,000ha compared with the current marketing year's crop.

A similar scenario occurred ahead of the 2020-21 marketing year, when heavy rainfall in the autumn of 2019 resulted in 4.27mn ha of soft wheat being planted for the 2020 harvest — a year-on-year fall of 731,000ha.

Argus' latest survey found that all regions in France are expecting a year-on-year drop in planted areas for soft wheat. The areas with the highest rainfall over the past two months are largely expecting the largest drop in planted areas. The region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine suffered the greatest impact, with 445mm of cumulative rainfall over the past two months cutting areas by an estimated 29pc.

Other regions recorded 208-355mm of rainfall from 15 October to 14 December.

In addition to Nouvelle-Aquitaine, other areas in the west and south of France — Pays de la Loire, Occitan and Provence Alpes-Cote d'Azur — are expected to see planted areas fall by 20-26pc on the year.

The northern regions of Normandy, Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France, Centre-Val de Loire and Brittany, which also suffered heavy rainfall, can expect planted areas to be cut back by around 10pc on the year.

Only the east of the country is expected to see cuts to planted acreages of 5pc and below compared with a year earlier.

As for crop conditions, crops are faring best in northeast France, where wheat was sown in early October and was able to establish itself before rain set in.

Rapeseed

Argus estimates France's planted rapeseed areas at 1.341mn ha, slightly below 1.35mn ha last season.

The rapeseed crop has generally fared much better than winter wheat. But crop conditions are worth monitoring, given a particularly low yield in 2020, when a dry spring followed wet weather in the autumn.


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