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PARIS: The condition of French soft wheat and barley crops improved in the week to May 24, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday, in another sign that rainfall this month has alleviated dryness from earlier in spring.

An estimated 80% of French soft wheat was in good or excellent condition, up from 79% the previous week, FranceAgriMer said.

The state of soft wheat, the main cereal crop in the European Union’s biggest grain producer, had already stabilised in early May after declining sharply last month during dry, cold spells.

For winter barley, the good/excellent score rose by 2 points to 77% while the spring barley rating edged up by 1 point to 85%.

While frequent showers this month have brought beneficial moisture to crops, persistent cool temperatures have slowed crop growth and raised the possibility of a late harvest.

For soft wheat, 47% of crops had reached the heading stage, well below 94% a year ago, FranceAgriMer estimated.

For winter barley, usually the first major cereal to be harvested in France at the start of summer, the heading stage was showing a five-day lag compared with the average of the past five years, the office said.

Warmer weather from the middle of this week, however, could boost crop development. For recently sown grain maize, the good/excellent rating declined to 91% from 93% but remained above a year-ago score of 83%, FranceAgriMer said.

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