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EU crop monitor ups grain yields, says more rain needed

[PARIS] The European Union's crop monitoring service slightly increased its forecast for this year's main grain yields in the bloc but said more rain was needed in several regions to sustain its fairly positive outlook. In a monthly report published on Monday, the MARS service pegged the average EU soft wheat yield at 6.05 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) against 6.02 t/ha in its initial forecast last month.

This would be 8.2 per cent above the average EU soft wheat yield in 2016, when the crop was hit by adverse weather and 3.5 per cent above the five-year average. "In most regions of Europe, continued mild weather conditions have been very favourable for winter crop growth and spring sowing activities. However, more rain is needed in several important crop-production areas to sustain good yields,"MARS said.

Dry conditions were expected to prevail over central and northern France, the country's grain baskets, parts of Spain and Italy and a major part of south-eastern Europe in the period to April 29, MARS said.

It expected some rainfall in central Europe and northern Britain but warned more would be needed, notably in Germany and Britain, to fully restore soil moisture levels.

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The unit slightly lifted its outlook for the EU's 2017 winter barley yield to 5.82 t/ha from 5.81 t/ha last month, now up 5.1 per cent above last year. It left spring barley yields unchanged at 4.21 t/ha, down nearly 3 per cent on last year.

For grain maize, MARS put the average yield at 7.13 t/ha, up from 7.12 t/ha seen last month but 0.8 per cent below last year's.

In oilseeds, MARS lowered its projection of this year's rapeseed yield to 3.27 t/ha from 3.29 t/ha, pointing to a cold spell that set in earlier this month raising concern for flowering rapeseed crops. The yield would still be 5.9 per cent above last year's and in line with the five-year average.

The unit kept its forecast of the EU's average sugar beet yield in 2017 unchanged at 74.2 t/ha, up 2.6 percent compared with last year.