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EU wheat doing well in mild winter, Poland in danger

Staff writer |
Wheat in major European Union producers is benefiting from generally mild weather in many regions, but there are concerns about frost damage in Poland.

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“Overall the crop picture is positive at this stage,” one German analyst said.

“The main worry is about Poland.” In the EU’s largest producer France, the wheat crop is mostly in good shape and in advance of the normal growth stage unusually warm winter weather and adequate rainfall.

“Wheat is estimated to be one to two weeks ahead of the normal growth rate, with durum showing a bigger advance than soft wheat,” said Jean-Paul Bordes of crop institute Arvalis.

Mild weather has raised concern that wheat could be vulnerable to cold snaps, but Bordes said forecasts of more mild, wet weather in the coming weeks suggest limited risk of damage from late frosts.

Favourable crop conditions and the largest soft wheat area in France in 80 years have raised expectations of another bumper harvest after last year’s record production, although crop watchers said it is too early to anticipate yields.

In the second largest producer Germany, wheat has mostly escaped frost damage apart from in some areas near Poland.

“The weather has been so warm that some wheat growth is somewhat advanced which would leave plants vulnerable to frosts,” one German analyst said.

“But February is normally Germany’s coldest month and March is warmer. Temperatures are forecast mostly above freezing up to Tuesday, so I am not currently concerned. There is some waterlogging on fields, but I do not regard this as a serious problem.”

In the third largest producer Britain, wheat is also in generally good condition following a mild winter, analysts said. Little change in the planted area is expected this season although in some areas where black-grass weed is a serious problem there has been a shift towards spring cropping.

Deep frosts which suddenly hit fourth-largest producer Poland in early January could have damaged 7 to 10 percent of the country’s wheat planted area, observers say.

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