First, poor weather left France with a paltry wheat harvest. Now the nation’s driest July in six decades is threatening its corn fields.
Most of France, which vies with Romania as the European Union’s top corn producer, has seen a quarter or less of normal rainfall in the past 30 days. Temperatures already set heat records in recent days and are due to climb back toward 34C (93F) in the key southwest growing region at the end of this week, according to Meteo France.
The drought is reducing yield potential after a good start to the season, Jean-Francois Lepy, managing director of Groupe Soufflet’s trading division, said in a video. Most of France’s corn has already moved past its key pollination phase, but the moisture deficit could shrink the size of the kernels as they fill with sugar and starch this month, said Vincent Braak, crop analyst at French consultant Strategie Grains.
“Crop conditions are deteriorating,” he said. “The weight of the kernel will be severely impacted by the lack of water.”
French farmers also suffered from a blistering heatwave last year, which struck earlier in the season, and EU corn output still remains on track to top 2019’s crop. Many farmers that weren’t able to plant winter grains because of autumn washouts boosted acreage of spring crops like corn instead, offsetting the yield risk. Crop conditions remain good across central Europe and parts of the southeast, Braak said.
Still, it adds to a year of extreme weather for France, after one of the warmest-ever springs and a waterlogged winter. Besides corn, the dry weather could pose a risk to sugar beets, which are also grappling with crop disease. The agriculture ministry is due to update its crop forecasts in a report later this week.
Read more: Europe’s wilted wheat leaves world hunting elsewhere for grain.
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