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  • Spring barley was often used as a replacement for winter crops that had suffered from heavy rainfall, the ministry said.
  • Sugar beet planting was seen falling 5.2pc from last year to 423,000 hectares, down 4.2pc on the five-year average, with farmers put off by a sharp fall in prices, it said.

PARIS: French soft wheat sowing for the 2020 harvest will drop 7.5pc from last year to a 17-year low of 4.6 million hectares after adverse autumn weather, the farm ministry said on Tuesday.

The 2020 estimate, which includes a small amount of spring wheat, would be 8pc below the five-year average, it said. Last month the ministry had estimated winter wheat sowing at 4.7 million hectares.

In a crop report, the ministry estimated the all-barley area at 2.0 million hectares, up 2.8pc from 2019, mainly because of an 8.9pc rise in spring barley sowing to 696,000 hectares.

Spring barley was often used as a replacement for winter crops that had suffered from heavy rainfall, the ministry said.

Sugar beet planting was seen falling 5.2pc from last year to 423,000 hectares, down 4.2pc on the five-year average, with farmers put off by a sharp fall in prices, it said.

For rapeseed, the ministry estimated the 2020 area, including the spring crop, at 1.08 million hectares, down 2.8pc from 2019.

French sowing had not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry said. The report was based on data collected up to the end of March.