France sees 2021 wheat area rise; barley, rapeseed and sugar beet fall

It also forecast the sugar beet plantings down 6% from last year to 396,000 ha

  

PARIS - France's spring crop area is forecast to fall back from 2020's high levels, while soft wheat sowings will rebound from a rain-hit campaign last year, the farm ministry said on Tuesday, citing forecasts made before a recent severe cold snap.

Based on data collected by April 1, the ministry estimates the soft wheat area, including spring wheat, at 4.9 million hectares (mln ha), an increase of 15% on 2020 and in line with the five-year average.

Spring barley will fall 34% from high levels last year to 524,000 ha, leading to a 12% fall in the total barley area to 1.73 mln ha.

The ministry forecast sugar beet plantings down 6% to 396,000 ha, 11.8% below the five-year average.

The ministry said the impact of recent frosts, which could have "significant consequences" on sugar beet, have not been included in this month's estimates.

Commenting on potential frost damage, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie on Monday said France was likely experiencing the greatest agronomic disaster this century. He promised financial aid for all sectors hit.

For rapeseed, the ministry estimates the 2021 area including spring crop at 990,000 ha, down 11% from 2020, falling below one million hectares for the first time in at least six years and 27% below the five-year average.

Parts of France registered extremely low temperatures for several days in a row last week, with the risk of damage to fruit orchards, vineyards and crops. More cold weather is forecast for this week.

Sugar beet growers on Monday said this month's frost spell had caused the worst ever losses for the industry. 

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Mike Harrison) ((Forrest.Crellin@thomsonreuters.com;))

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