Rapeseed yields in France’s north and east, which account for about half of the country’s growing area, are forecast to fall from last year on poor planting conditions and excess rain, researcher Cetiom said.
Harvesting across the region will be 15 days or more delayed after cold spring weather hampered growth, with the bulk of rapeseed to be cut between July 20 and Aug. 10, the Paris-based technical center for oilseed crops wrote in an online report today.
Temperatures in the north of France averaged 11.6 degrees Celsius (52.9 degrees Fahrenheit) in May, 2.1 degrees below normal and the fifth month in a row that was colder than usual, agriculture ministry weather data show. France has received 36 percent more rain than usual since March 1, the data show.
“We’re seeing a very big delay of vegetation compared to normal,” Cetiom wrote. “This delay is mainly explained by an non-existent spring, with average temperatures below normal in March and May.”
France’s rapeseed production may fall to 4.8 million metric tons this year from 5.43 million tons in 2012, grain-industry group Coceral forecast today.
In the Burgundy and Franche-Comte regions, with a growing area estimated at 201,600 hectares (498,154 acres) this year, yields are expected to be around 3 tons per hectare, according to Cetiom.
“The strong rainfall in spring, coupled with difficulties of establishment in autumn on the northern part, will negatively affect the yields but maybe less than could be feared,” the researcher wrote.
Yields in the Lorraine region may be around 2.6 tons per hectare, compared with yields ranging from 2.3 tons to 2.8 tons in 2012, according to Cetiom. The growing area is estimated at 92,500 hectares this year, down from 137,900 hectares in 2012, and the plowing under of the worst fields will “mechanically” lift yields, the researcher said.
In Champagne, yields are expected to be around the same level as last year’s 3.4 to 3.5 tons per hectare, the report showed. The growing area in Champagne-Ardenne is estimated at 191,700 hectares this year from 197,900 hectares in 2012.
In Picardy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Seine-Maritime, with a combined 215,200 hectares in rapeseed planting, yields are estimated to be 3.5 to 3.7 tons per hectare from 4 to 4.2 tons in 2012, according to Cetiom.
Difficult crop establishment as well as unrealized planting intentions may still reduce the area for Burgundy, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne by a combined 5,000 to 10,000 hectares below government estimates, Cetiom said.
The late harvest will create “delicate” establishment conditions for the next crop, also because grains face similar delays to rapeseed, according to the researcher.
“In addition, the heavy soils remain saturated with water and are only drying out very progressively,” Cetiom wrote. “Major difficulties in soil preparation are to be expected.”
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