HAMBURG, July 31 (Reuters) – Western Europe’s rainy summer is causing concern to farmers struggling to gather wheat harvests in the top three European Union producers France, Germany and Britain and worry about quality loss is growing, analysts said on Tuesday.
Time is starting to get tight but a stint of hot, dry weather could still permit a good crop to be gathered, they said.
In France, the EU’s largest wheat producer, the return of rain late last week revived concerns about harvest delays and possible quality damage in northern French grain belts, which could spoil a crop that has so far produced strong yields and satisfactory quality.
After last week’s dry and hot weather helped harvesting, storms and heavy showers between Friday and Sunday soaked some fields where plants are now ripe for cutting.
“The majority of wheat crops to the north of the Seine river are potentially ready to harvest but for that to happen we need favourable weather,” said Jean-Charles Deswarte of French crop institute Arvalis, referring to the river that flows through Paris and up to the north coast.
Temperatures are forecast to climb back up to the mid-20s Celsius in north France from Tuesday but scattered showers are also expected this week.
“Up till now it wasn’t too serious as the wheat crops were barely ripe but now there’s little room left for manoeuvre,” said Michel Portier, head of grains consultancy Agritel.
Wheat harvest results in south France show good yields and reasonable quality.
“The first part of the harvest meets quality requirements for export,” a trader said, citing protein content of between 11 and 11.2 percent on the west coast. “But what will it be like in Rouen or Dunkirk unless clear weather establishes itself?”
Most of the buyers in Europe’s primary Middle Eastern export markets demand protein content of at least 11 percent.