PARIS (Reuters) – The impact of a heatwave on cereal crops in France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, should be limited and was not a cause for alarm, the country’s agriculture minister said on Monday.
“For cereals, probably a bit but not that much because we’re already late in the season,” Marc Fesneau told France Info radio when asked about a possible hit to yields from the heatwave.
Cereal yields could see “a decline in relative terms but not dramatically” due to the cumulative effect of last week’s heatwave and preceding spring drought in some regions, he said.
Grain traders and analysts have also seen a moderate risk to crops from last week’s extreme heat, with many French barley and wheat crops at the end of their growth cycle.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in part of France last week as an exceptionally early heatwave spread northwards from Spain, before storms brought cooler weather from Sunday.
The intense heat added further doubt over harvest prospects after drought that damaged some French crops in recent weeks.
France’s farm ministry this month forecast that the average yield for winter barley, harvesting of which is under way, would fall compared with last year, although a bigger crop area would allow production to edge up.
The ministry is due to issue its first wheat production forecast in July.
Dry, hot weather has also parched grasslands and could pose a problem for livestock farmers by reducing availability of straw and other forage crops, Fesneau said.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz)