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PARIS: French farmers began harvesting soft wheat in the week to July 5, making a slower start than last year as a wet, cool start to summer hampered field work, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday.

Farmers had harvested 1% of the area cut compared with 10% a year ago, FranceAgriMer’s weekly cereal report showed.

For winter barley, the first major cereal crop to be harvested at the start of summer, 10% of the area had been cut, up from 2% the previous week but well behind 61% progress a year earlier.

France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, is still expected to reap large cereal crops due to favourable conditions earlier in the season. But frequent showers and cool temperatures since late June have caused concern about harvest delays and potential deterioration of crop quality.

Durum wheat harvesting was 15% complete compared with 1% the previous week and 33% by the same week last year. Spring barley harvesting was just starting, with 1% of the area harvested against 9% a year earlier.

The condition of cereal crops remained mostly favourable.

For soft wheat, 79% of crops were rated good or excellent, against 55% a year ago FranceAgriMer estimated.

The good/excellent score for grain maize, which is harvested in the autumn, was also stable at 89%.

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