French wheat conditions decline again after hot spell

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PARIS, May 27 (Reuters) – The condition of French wheat and barley crops declined for a third week in a row, data from farm office FranceAgriMer showed on Friday, as a hot spell worsened drought in the European Union’s biggest grain producer.

For soft wheat, France’s main cereal product, an estimated 69% of crops were in good or excellent condition by May 23, against 73% the previous week, FranceAgriMer said in a cereal report.

The good/excellent score for soft wheat has lost 20 percentage points over the past three weeks, though the decline was less pronounced in the most recent week.

The latest rating compared with 80% at the same time last year.

Temperatures hit record levels for May in some areas of France last week, further drying out soils that have received little rain this year, before storms brought showers and cooler weather this week.

Lack of moisture has already damaged some grain fields and significant rain will be needed to avert more losses, crop analysts and traders said. 

Harvest prospects in France are being watched closely as grain markets wrestle with disruption to Ukraine’s massive exports owing to Russia’s three-month-old invasion.

Crop conditions for French barley and durum wheat also declined again. Spring barley showed the steepest weekly fall, with the good/excellent score losing 8 percentage points to 61%, FranceAgriMer’s data showed.

Maize planting was almost finished, with 99% of the expected area sown. For emerged maize plants, FranceAgriMer said 91% of the crop was in good or excellent condition, down from 93% a week earlier.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Forrest CrellinEditing by Jan Harvey and David Goodman)

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