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PARIS: France’s farm ministry on Tuesday estimated that the area sown with soft wheat for the 2023 harvest will increase to 4.75 million hectares, 1.7% higher compared with the area harvested this year.

The expected level would also be 0.1% above the average of the previous five years, the ministry said in a report.

France is the European Union’s biggest grain producer and soft wheat is the country’s most produced cereal.

In its first sowing estimates for next year’s harvest, the ministry projected that the winter barley area would reach 1.30 million hectares, up 1% from 2022 and 3.9% above the five-year average. The rapeseed area was pegged at 1.29 million hectares, up 4.9% on year and 6.5% above the five-year average.

The ministry’s projections covered winter varieties sown in late summer and autumn. Wheat and rapeseed are almost exclusively winter crops in France whereas barley production includes a large amount of spring-sown crop.

The increased sowing areas coupled with favourable early growing conditions suggest good production prospects for 2023, although weather from spring onwards tends to have more of a bearing on final yields.

In contrast, sowing of durum wheat was estimated down 4.4% on year at 233,000 hectares, or 12.5% below the five-year mean.

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