French wheat crop ranking slips further in week to May 30

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PARIS, June 3 (Reuters)The state of the French soft wheat harvest has deteriorated for the fifth consecutive week, according to data from agricultural office FranceAgriMer show Friday, as drought persisted in the EU’s largest grain producer.

An estimated 67% of the soft wheat harvest was in good or excellent condition in the week to May 30, compared to 69% the previous week, FranceAgriMer said in a cereals report.

The rating fell more than 20 percentage points in May as a heat wave exacerbated the drought after low rainfall since the start of the year.

However, the decline in conditions last week was smaller than in the previous three weeks, suggesting showers and cooler temperatures have given crops some respite.

The latest soft wheat score compared to a score of 80% a year earlier, FranceAgriMer said.

Harvest prospects in France are being closely watched amid disruption of Ukrainian supplies following the Russian invasion.

Traders and analysts say the drought has damaged French crops in areas with shallow soil, but conditions are much more promising in areas with deep soil that have received rainfall.

The regional data from FranceAgriMer’s cereal balance sheet confirm the local contrasts. In the Centre-Val de Loire region south of Paris, only 43% of the soft wheat harvest was rated as good/excellent, while in Hauts-de-France, another key production area in the far north, the score was 71%.

Unsettled weather with showers forecast for the end of this week could help crops, traders say.

The growing conditions for barley and French durum wheat have also deteriorated.

Spring barley again posted the largest weekly drop, with the good/excellent score losing 7 percentage points to 54%, according to data from FranceAgriMer.

The good/excellent rating for recently planted maize crops remained unchanged from the previous week at 91%.

TABLE – Progress of French cereal crops for the week to 30 May

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Forrest Crellin; editing by Jason Neely)

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