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PARIS: The European Commission raised its forecast of 2019/20 common wheat production in the European Union while lowering again its outlook for rapeseed, underscoring contrasting harvest prospects for the EU's main cereal and oilseed crops.

In monthly supply and demand estimates published on its website, the Commission raised its estimate of the next wheat crop, excluding durum, to 143.8 million tonnes (mn t) from 141.3mn t projected last month.

That would be 11.8pc above production of 128.6mn t in 2018/19 when wheat yields were dented by heatwaves and prolonged drought, particularly in northern Europe.

The Commission said its crop forecasts were based on area estimates provided by EU member countries and yield projections from MARS, the EU's crop monitoring service.

MARS this month increased slightly its yield outlook for the EU wheat harvest and trimmed its rapeseed forecast.

Grain trade association Coceral last week also raised its forecast for the upcoming EU wheat harvest, citing beneficial rain.

The Commission estimated that top EU grower France would produce 37.9mn t of wheat this year, compared with 34mn t in 2018/19, and Germany would produce 23.2mn t, against 20mn t last year.

For exports, the EU's executive maintained its forecasts for EU 2019/20 common wheat exports of 25.5mn t and 2018/19 common wheat exports of 21.0mn t.

For rapeseed, the Commission cut its forecast for 2019/20 rapeseed production to 18.7mn t from 19.2mn t last month, down 6.4pc from 20mn t last year.

The reduction reflected downward revisions to expected output in top producers France and Germany, it said.

The French crop was now forecast at 4.27mn t, down from 4.95mn t last year, and the German harvest was estimated at 3.11 mn t compared with 3.68mn t in 2018/19.

The outlook for this year's EU rapeseed harvest has been hurt by a sharp drop in area following drought and insect attacks.

The Commission also increased sharply its outlook for EU rapeseed imports next season, to 4.5mn t from 3.8mn t last month, now above an estimated 4.3mn t in 208/19.

For other major crops, it cut slightly its forecasts for EU 2019/20 barley production, to 60.7mn t from 61.0mn t, and for maize production to 68.2mn t from 68.3mn t.

For maize imports, it left unchanged its estimate for 2019/20 at 15.5mn t and raised its estimate for 2018/19 to 22.5mn t from 21.5mn t.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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