‘La catastrophe’ – French harvest set to be worst in decades

France could be in for its worst harvest in 30 years, according to latest crop updates.

The poor weather conditions observed in late May in France continued in June with substantial rainfall, exceptionally low sunshine.

Overly wet conditions led to saturated soils. Consequently, yield forecasts have been revised downwards.

The country’s wheat is in the worst condition in at least five years, with just 40 percent receiving the top ratings, crops office FranceAgriMer said last week.

Output of soft wheat, used for bread and chicken feed, will total 28.2 million metric tons this year a level not seen since the 1980s, according to an Offre & Demande Agricole report.

Rainfall was greatly above average in the northern half of the country during the first half of June, and slightly below average in the southernmost regions. ChampagneArdenne, Centre, Ile de France, Picardie, and Bourgogne received twice the average rainfall for May and June.

In the northern half of the country, conditions for nearly all crops continued to deteriorate.

Winter cereals became partly lodged, and crops were exposed to increased disease pressure. The yields of soft wheat, winter and spring barley (the most impacted crops) have been revised downwards, and are now close to the five-year average and greatly below last year’s yields.

The prolonged humid conditions have also had an effect on the quality of grains, and a lower protein level of cereals is expected. Durum wheat is less impacted as conditions were better in the southernmost regions.

The French Government has announced a number of measures to assist farmers in the face of difficulties in the tillage sector.

The measures include increased access to credit to elevate cashflow problems, tax payment delays and VAT refunds.