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Annual crop yield forecast: European Commission foresees above average cereals harvest for 2008

Favourable weather conditions and an increase in the planted area farmed should lead to a total cereals harvest close to 301 M tonnes for this year in the European Union, 43 M tonnes more than in 2007.

This represents an increase of 16% on the 2007 harvest and 9% on the past five years' average production. This forecast, published today by the European Commission, is based on an updated analysis by the Commission's in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), using an advanced crop yield forecasting system.

The yield forecast for cereals is 5 tonnes per hectare across the EU and thus significantly higher than last year and the average over the past five years. The total EU27 area used for cereals in 2008 is estimated to have increased by 5 % compared to 2007, due to a 0 % set-aside rate and high cereals prices.

Looking at individual crop figures across the EU27 over the past five years and as of August 5th 2008, the latest yield forecasts show the following trends:
-soft wheat:5.6 t/ha (+4.8%)
-durum wheat: 3.1 t/ha (+12.8%)
-barley: 4.4 t/ha (+5.7%)
-grain maize: 6.9 t/ha (+9.5%)
-rape seed: 2.9 t/ha (-2,1%)
-sunflower: 1.6 t/ha (+1.7%)
-potato: 26.5 t/ha (-1.1%)
-sugar beet: 70.3 t/ha (+19.0%)
The greatest increase is for sugar beet, cultivated mainly in northern Europe, with the main producers Germany and France, which benefited from favourable meteorological conditions, increasing yield forecasts significantly.

Maize yield is expected to be 20.1% higher than last year and 9.5% higher than the past five years' average, with very high yield increases for Romania (+122%), Bulgaria (+193%) and Hungary (+94%), countries that had been suffering from drought last year.

The winter of 2007/2008 was rather mild, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, but cooler than the exceptionally mild winter of 2006/07. Temperatures followed a seasonal course with warmer average temperatures compared to the long term average (period 1975–2007) for Central and Eastern Europe. June and July have been slightly cooler for France, northern Spain and the United Kingdom, representing favorable conditions for still active crops.

Rainfall throughout the season has been abundant and well distributed for Spain but has led to over-wet situations in France and northern Italy. On the other hand, northern Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark experienced a long lasting dry period starting in spring and continuing into June 2008, coupled with some high temperatures. This situation has impacted primarily upon winter crops and led to lower production and local failures.

In spite of heavy rainfall at the end of July in Romania, overall weather conditions for the countries hit by last year's drought have been good.

Berta Duane | alfa
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