PARIS- Consultancy Strategie Grains kept unchanged its monthly forecast for soft wheat production in the European Union this year as a weather-related reduction for France was offset by favourable prospects in the southeast of the bloc.
The French firm still expects the 27-country EU to produce 129.6 million tonnes of soft wheat, up 8.5% from last year's 119.4 million, it said in a cereal report summary released on Thursday.
Projected output in France, the EU's biggest wheat grower and exporter, was cut by 0.5 million tonnes to 36.1 million tonnes to take account of a rain deficit and frost damage, Strategie Grains said.
A dry start to spring and frosts during April worsened growing conditions for French cereals, although rain in the past two weeks is expected to ease crop stress.
Like other crop observers, Strategie Grains still expects French production to recover from last year's 29.2 million tonnes.
Very good field conditions led the firm to raise its wheat crop forecasts for southeastern EU countries such as Romania, it said.
Strategie Grains reiterated that the bigger EU harvest should lead to a recovery in soft wheat stocks in 2021/22, with overseas competition expected to cap EU exports near this season's level.
For the current 2020/21 season, it raised its estimate of EU-27 soft wheat exports to 27.5 million tonnes from 27.1 million last month, further tightening the bloc's stockpile.
For barley, the projected 2021 EU harvest was trimmed by 300,000 tonnes to 53.7 million tonnes, about 3% down from last year, as Strategie Grains cited recent cold weather in France and northern Europe.
It nudged up its forecast of EU maize production by 100,000 tonnes to 65.2 million tonnes, 3% above last year's level.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by David Evans) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +33 1 49 49 52 18; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))