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German grain harvest starts but outlook uncertain
HAMBURG ,Barley harvesting has started in south-west Germany and is expected to begin in the coming week in more south and central regions amid concerns about weather damage, analysts said on Thursday.
"Yields from the first barley in Baden-Wuerttemberg are better than expected but you cannot read too much into the first grain brought in," one analyst said.
"We need to wait until harvesting is more widespread in a week or two."
Some emergency harvesting of weather-damaged barley and rye has also started in eastern Germany but mainstream work has not yet begun.
Grain plantings have been hit by considerable frost damage and then by a lack of rain this spring. But the damage is regional and varies greatly between grain types.
Traders say there is disagreement between producers and buyers about the size of the crop, and trading in new-crop grain is lower than in previous years.
Barley, rapeseed and some rye have suffered damage, while wheat is in generally better state, analysts said, adding last week's rain had helped crops, especially wheat.
"Nationally, the wheat crop looks positive and if the weather holds wheat harvesting should start considerably earlier this year, in early to mid-August," one analyst said. "This would depend on good weather enabling normal growth in the next month."
"We are not looking at a disaster in Germany's wheat crop. I think we will have just a little less than last year's crop of 21 million tonnes," he added.
Analysts said a fall of between two to five percent in Germany's winter wheat crop is likely.
"It is very difficult to make a judgement on quality but signs are quality in terms of protein could be good in many areas," another analyst said. "Wheat is starting to ripen and when it starts turning yellow there will be no further change in grain size. This means we will not get an increase in yields if it rains again and we want dry weather from now on," he said.
"In turn, this means much German wheat could have relatively small grains but could have high protein levels."
In its latest market report, leading German grain trader Toepfer International forecast an unchanged German wheat crop of around 21 million tonnes.
Winter barley, used for animal feed, is facing problems because of damage, especially in the east. Analysts said they expect a reduction of between 15 to 20 percent from last year's 8.26 million tonnes.
Some damaged winter barley was replanted as spring barley, used for beer brewing. But much of these replanting are unlikely to reach brewing quality and will be sold as feed.
MGR Archive 28.6.2003
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