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PARIS: The state of French soft wheat crops remained at their worst in four years last week after a rain-disrupted sowing campaign, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday.

Some 68% of French soft wheat was rated as being in good or excellent condition by Feb 12, unchanged from a week earlier but the lowest for the time of year since 2020, when crops were also affected by heavy rain, FranceAgriMer said in a cereal report.

A year ago, 93% of soft wheat was rated good/excellent. Torrential rain in autumn and early winter delayed planting in France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, and also hampered the establishment of young crops, particularly along the west coast. France’s agriculture ministry this week estimated the country’s soft wheat area would fall by more than 7% from last year to its second-lowest in 30 years.

Farmers finished sowing soft wheat and winter barley last week, FranceAgriMer’s crop report showed. For durum wheat, planting was 89% complete by Feb. 12, compared with an average 95% for the past five years, the office said.

Winter barley and durum crop conditions were also at four-year lows at 71% and 75% good/excellent, respectively. However, durum conditions had improved sharply from the previous week when only 66% of the crop had been rated good/excellent, FranceAgriMer’s data showed.

For spring barley, 20% of the expected area had been sown by Monday, against 18% a week earlier, the office said.

That was well down on 54% progress a year ago and also below the five-year average of 25%. Analysts are expecting farmers to sow more spring barley and maize this year after the wet conditions prevented them from completing planned wheat planting.

FranceAgriMer’s crop report was its first since early December following a winter pause.

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