Heavy rains hit spring barley crops in northern Europe

PARIS - Heavy rainfall has taken a toll on spring barley crops in northwestern Europe, mainly in France where the harvest was seen sharply below last year's.

PARIS - Heavy rainfall has taken a toll on spring barley crops in northwestern Europe, mainly in France where the harvest was seen sharply below last year's.

But a bumper crop was expected in top producer Spain and Britain expected a good harvest.

Spring barley, mostly used to make beer ingredient malt, suffered from a prolonged lack of sunshine in France until early July, adding to damage caused by rain in May and June, Strategie Grains said on Wednesday.

The consultancy plans to cut its estimate for the French crop in its July report due next week, analyst Benoit Fayaud said.

In its last estimate the consultancy had pegged France's 2016 spring barley harvest 5.4 percent lower than last year at 2.8 million metric tons.


"We think the situation of spring barley has worsened since because there was rain during flowering early June and a lack of sunshine," he said. "The European crop will be average (in volume) everywhere but in France it will be particularly bad."

Farm office FranceAgriMer cut spring barley's crop ratings last week, estimating 71 percent of the crop in good or excellent condition compared to 76 percent the previous week.

In Germany repeated rain has sparked concern about possible loss of spring barley quality.

"I think Germany is facing a reasonable spring barley harvest in tonnage terms but there is a question mark about how much of the crop will reach malting quality and really no reliable estimates about this yet," a German analyst said.

"However it is still too early to talk about definite damage and things could change if we get a return to dry, sunny weather which has been absent in June."

Germany's spring barley harvest will fall 1.5 percent on the year to 1.96 million metric tons after a reduction in planted area, Germany's farm cooperatives association forecast.

In the EU's largest producer of the grain, Spain, the picture was very different from the north, with yields expected to be excellent after nearly ideal weather throughout the season.

Strategie Grains last month pegged the crop up more than 40 percent on 2015 at 8.1 million metric tons, boosted by higher yields.


The outlook was also good in Britain, where the majority of the barley crop is spring-sown, making it the EU's second largest producer.

"The prospects for spring barley are pretty good," analyst Susan Twining of crop consultants ADAS said, noting the crops had established well this year.

Britain's spring barley is expected between 650,000 to 700,000 hectares, compared with 659,000 last year. Harvest begins in early August in the UK.

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