Soft wheat output in the European Union is expected to fall 4 percent in 2016 after a record crop this year while maize is seen rebounding after a drought-hit harvest, consultancy Strategie Grains said on Thursday. Its first full forecasts for next year's crops put 2016 EU soft wheat production at 143.6 million tonnes, compared with an estimated 150.0 million in 2015. "The countries where production is expected to fall most sharply are France, Britain, Hungary, the Baltic States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and the Scandinavian countries," Strategie Grains said in its monthly report. It raised its estimate for the EU soft wheat area for the 2016 crop by 100,000 hectares from last month to 24 million hectares due to higher sowings reported in France and Sweden. Barley production in the EU was forecast to drop 1 percent next year to 60.0 million tonnes. Output was expected to fall most sharply in Germany, France, Czech Republic, the Baltic States, Romania, the UK and Ireland (-1.7 Mt combined), while it should increase in Spain, the consultancy said. For grain maize, which is sown exclusively in spring, the consultancy expected the crop to return to its 2013 level after a bumper crop in 2014 and a drought-hit 2015. It projected grain maize production of 64.9 million tonnes, up 13 percent on 2015, due to a similar percentage increase in its yield estimate. Durum output was expected to rise next year, up 6 percent on 2015 at 8.6 million tonnes. Most of the increase was expected to be recorded in Italy and Spain. Overall, Strategie Grains sees grains production in the 28-member bloc nearly stable in 2016 at 309.8 million tonnes, up 1.3 million tonnes on the current season.