Drought casts shadow over EU grain harvest

15 June 20232 min reading

The European grain trade association Coceral's third forecast for the 2023 crop highlights the challenges posed by current dryness in the northern half of the EU, resulting in a downward revision of grain crop expectations. The forecast reveals a total grain crop estimate of 296.7 million tons, reflecting a slight decrease from the previous forecast in March. However, this projection still represents an increase from the 2022 harvest of 291.1 million tons.

The downward revision in the crop forecast is primarily attributed to the prevailing dry conditions in the northern half of the EU, leading to significant adjustments in crop expectations. Coceral has lowered production estimates notably for Sweden, Denmark, and the Baltics. Additionally, Germany and Spain have experienced revised downward production figures, as recent rains arrived too late to benefit wheat and barley crops.

For wheat production (excluding durum), Coceral expects a total of 142.4 million tons, a decrease from both the previous forecast of 144.5 million tons and the 2022 harvest of 142.5 million tons. Meanwhile, the forecast for EU-27+UK barley production in 2023 has been adjusted to 56.6 million tons, down from the previous forecast of 59.6 million tons and the 2022 production of 59.3 million tons. The corn crop is now projected at 61.3 million tons, slightly lower than the previous forecast of 62.3 million tons but significantly higher than the 2022 harvest of 52.5 million tons.

Countries such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Italy are expected to see larger corn crops compared to the previous year when severe drought and heat affected yields. However, the French corn crop is not expected to recover substantially due to reduced plantings caused by high input costs. In some instances, crops like sunseeds are predicted to substitute a portion of the corn area, leading to more extensive cultivation.

The forecast for the EU-27+UK rapeseed crop stands at 21.0 million tons, slightly lower than the previous forecast of 21.1 million tons but in line with the 2022 harvest of 21.0 million tons. While plantings have increased slightly year on year, yields are expected to dip slightly from the favorable levels of the previous year. If the dryness in the northern half of the EU persists into July, further reductions in the production forecast are likely.

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