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PARIS: The condition of French soft wheat fell slightly in the week to May 15 but remained at its highest level in at least a decade, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday.

An estimated 93% of soft wheat was in good or excellent condition compared with 94% the previous week.

The score was above the 73% registered a year earlier and the highest for the time of year in FranceAgriMer data going back to 2011.

Like other parts of Europe, France has had regular showers since March, which have boosted soil moisture after a dry winter.

Wet, chilly and overcast weather has caused some concern this month over risks to crops in northern plains, though a sunny and warm end to this week should help plants.

The good/excellent rating for winter barley shed 2 percentage points in the latest week to 90% while the durum wheat score eased by one point to 87%. The corresponding spring barley rating was unchanged from the previous week at 95%.

Grain maize sowing was nearing completion, with 88% of the expected area planted. This year’s sowing, which has been hampered by recent wet and cool weather, was lagging the 97% achieved by the same stage last year and a five-year average of 93%, FranceAgriMer said.

French farmers are estimated to have made a sharp reduction to the maize area this year, partly in response to severe drought last year.

Water reserves in France remain relatively low despite widespread spring rain, raising the risk of stress on maize crops this summer.

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