(Bloomberg) -- A soggy spring is delaying the development of key crops in northern Europe, driving concerns over yields and lifting crop prices from a lengthy downturn.

France experienced its fifth-wettest March since record-keeping began in 1958, government data shows. Britain’s grain-growing region saw 160% of typical rainfall for the start of the year, according to Aura Commodities meteorologist Tom Whittaker. 

Those factors are straining the growth of soft wheat and barley — staples used in everything from bread to beer. The winter was also unseasonably wet. That could revive inflation later in the year.

British supplies of milling wheat, the variety used for flour, will likely need to be bolstered by imports, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board analyst Ella Roberts said in a note this week. The researcher expects UK imports of wheat for the season to be above the five-year average. 

However, nearby trading partners are also struggling. French wheat plantings in autumn were significantly delayed, and conditions this spring are running at the worst since 2020. 

“The rains have had an impact because for some crops, we are over two months behind,” said Amaury Babault, president of the youth farming union Jeunes Agriculteurs, south of Paris. “We are forced to change to other crops” such as sunflower and corn. 

Rainfall is set to taper off later this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A drier May and June could also improve crops before the harvest later this year.

Farmers are “trying to make up for the two past months and taking advantage of the good weather, because we don’t know how long it will last,” Babault said.

--With assistance from Ellie Harmsworth.

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