Bloomberg News

French Wheat Winter Kill May Be 1.9 Million Tons, Agritel Says

March 12, 2012

French soft-wheat production may be slashed by 1.91 million metric tons after freezing weather in the first two weeks of February devastated some fields, Paris- based farm adviser Agritel said.

Winter kill destroyed 5.3 percent of planted wheat, cutting output by 1.89 million tons, based on average yields, Agritel wrote in a March 9 report, citing a survey of 2,105 farmers. The cold damaged another 13 percent of fields to cut soft-wheat potential production by 450,000 tons, while spring replanting may add 429,400 tons of wheat, the farm adviser said.

May-delivery milling wheat has gained 8.4 percent on NYSE Liffe in the French capital this year on concern about crop damage, after temperatures in February fell below minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in France’s Alsace and Lorraine regions with little protective snow cover.

“This survey provides evidence of damage that is greater than the first estimates from recent weeks, particularly in soft wheat,” Agritel wrote in the e-mailed report. “Nevertheless, many crops were affected without being totally destroyed, which makes their real evaluation difficult.”

Potential winterkill losses for winter barley are estimated at 317,300 tons, while rapeseed production may be reduced by 108,300 tons because of the cold, according to Agritel. Durum- wheat potential was cut by 112,100 tons, the adviser said.

“Durum wheat, rapeseed and winter barley came out better than expected,” Agritel wrote. “On the European level, we’re waiting for details on the damage in other countries, particularly Germany and Poland.”

Spring Planting

Increased spring planting may lift spring barley production by 627,500 tons, based on average yields, while corn output might climb by 599,600 tons, the farm adviser said. Output of sunflower seed may advance 114,000 tons.

Agritel said it surveyed farmers by e-mail and through its website, and responses may have been biased because those affected by winterkill could have been more motivated to reply.

The surveyed farmers experienced temperatures of between minus 22 degrees Celsius in the Loire to minus 9 Celsius in Brittany, with average lows of minus 16 degrees Celsius, according to the farm adviser.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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