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PARIS: European wheat ended lower on Friday as crops in both France and Britain continued to flourish while a report on prospective US plantings showed area may be higher than expected.

Front-month May milling wheat on Paris-based Euronext, the last contract for the current 2022/23 season, settled 0.6% lower at 260.25 euros a tonne.

The US Department of Agriculture forecast all wheat plantings at 49.855 million acres, above the average trade estimate in a Reuters poll of 48.852 million and well above the prior season’s 45.738 million.

Analysts, however, cautioned that harvested acres could be much lower due to drought in the southern Plains and overly wet spring planting conditions in the northern Plains.

In France, nearly all French winter wheat and barley crops ended the winter season in good condition with 94% and 93% of the crop in good to excellent condition by March 27, farm office FranceAgriMer said. Prospects were also favourable in Britain with 90% of winter wheat in good or excellent condition, as of March 28, up from 81% at the same point last year, according to data issued by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The prime ministers of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia sent a letter to the European Commission’s chief to intervene as they face a surge in imports of cheap Ukrainian grain which pressured internal prices, raising farmers’ anger. If market distortions caused by the inflow of Ukrainian grain cannot be eliminated by other means, tariffs and tariff quotas should be reintroduced, they said.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, had its Black Sea ports blocked following Russia’s February 2022 invasion and found alternative shipping routes through European Union states Poland and Romania.

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