The current prospects for EU-28 yields are above the five-year average with the latest forecast from MARS, the EU Crop Monitoring bulletin suggesting total cereals for 2016 to yield 5.54t/ha.

This forecast is 4.2% above the five-year average and is being driven by increased yield expectations for all cereals with winter barley, soft wheat and maize posting the highest projected increases.

The report attributes the increase to the generally fair growth conditions that were experienced on the Continent in April.

For Ireland and the UK, the MARS report suggests a fair outlook for crop yields, despite the difficult weather. Sowing was delayed due to wet conditions and a cold period stalled development, it found.

May, so far, generally presented favourable conditions, and allowed spring sowings to be completed and young stands to recover, bringing yield outlooks close to average.

In the UK, the MARS report found that the first half of April was characterised by around-average or just-above-average temperatures, followed by a distinctly colder-than-usual period, especially in the north, until the first days of May.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, below-average temperatures predominated throughout this period.

The rest of May was significantly warmer than usual, in both countries, but temperatures dropped again at the end of the reporting period. Temperature sums for the period as a whole were close to the long-term average, it found.

According to the MARS report, winter crops are faring well, with development slightly advanced in most of the UK and close to average in Ireland.

However, pest and disease pressure remains high and farmers often experienced difficulties to conduct timely field operations due to wet conditions.

The planting of spring barley, sugar beet and potato experienced delays, extending into May, the MARS report found. Emergence and development of early sown crops lagged behind due to the cold snap in April but these recovered well in May.

The yield forecasts by MARS for winter crops remain close to or slightly above the five-year average. The forecasts for spring crops are still based on the long-term trends.