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Maize harvesting and winter cereal sowing in France remained well behind their usual pace last week, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed, suggesting wet weather was continuing to hamper field work in the EU's biggest grain producer.

French farmers had harvested 85% of this year's grain maize crop by Nov. 11, up from 79% a week earlier, FranceAgriMer said in a weekly crop report on Friday.

The harvest was running eight days behind the average pace of the past five years and 20 days behind the pace seen last year when 99% of the crop had been gathered by the same week, the report showed. Sowing of soft wheat for next year's harvest was 72% complete, up from 67% the previous week but down from 92% a year earlier, FranceAgriMer said.

For winter barley, sowing was 83% done, up from 81% a week earlier and trailing the 95% seen a year ago. The development of soft wheat crops was running 10 days behind the five-year average while winter barley was showing an eight-day lag, FranceAgriMer said.

In contrast to last year, when summer dryness persisted into autumn, France and other parts of western Europe have seen heavy rain in the past month.

The wet weather has raised concern that farmers may struggle to complete sowing of so-called winter cereals for next year, particularly in Britain.

Nationwide rainfall in France during October was 40% above average, according to public weather service Meteo France, and November has seen more frequent showers along with storms and now snow in southern regions.

However, the precipitation could benefit crops that are successfully sown by relieving parched soils after drought and heatwaves during summer.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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