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PARIS: French farmers nearly completed wheat harvesting last week, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday, as a hot spell allowed field work to pick up after rain disruption this summer.

Farmers had cut 91% of the soft wheat crop area by Aug. 16 compared with 72% a week earlier, FranceAgriMer said in a cereal report.

In the northerly Hauts-de-France region, a major production belt, the harvest advanced to 81% complete from 32%, the office estimated.

Warm, sunny weather last week allowed farmers to get back in the fields, although the return of rain this week in northern France may slow the final stages of harvesting.

The soft wheat harvest was still running two weeks behind the pace seen last year, when field work was already finished by the same date, and 11 days behind the average pace of the past five years, the office said.

The heavy rain during summer has damaged grain quality in the French crop, which determines wheat's suitability for milling, although it is still expected to show good yields.

Harvesting of durum wheat, used in pasta, ended last week after being 99% complete the previous week, FranceAgriMer said. Spring barley harvesting was 97% complete compared with 79% a week earlier.

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