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Wet Conditions Delay Spring Crops Across Western Europe

The European spring crop outlook is marked by contrasting conditions, with significant delays in planting across western and northern Europe, while favorable weather has allowed for a smooth sowing campaign in central and eastern regions, according to the latest report from the European Commission's MARS Bulletin.

Spring Barley: Delayed Planting Across Western and Northern Europe

Excessive rainfall throughout western and northern Europe has caused significant delays in spring barley planting, with some areas yet to complete sowing. Conversely, central and eastern European countries have benefited from favorable conditions, leading to an early conclusion of their sowing campaigns.

"Significant delays to sowing in western and northern Europe" the MARS Bulletin states. "The widespread delay in planting persisted throughout western and northern Europe owing to excessively wet conditions, with the result that not all plantings have been completed (yet)."

While France, Germany, and the Benelux countries have largely completed their sowing, late planting in Ireland and the United Kingdom, coupled with pest pressure, could negatively impact yields.

In contrast, favorable conditions have allowed for successful completion of sowing in Romania, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. However, dry topsoil in Poland requires immediate rainfall to support crop establishment.

Sugar Beet: Planting Nearly Complete, but Pest Pressure Remains a Concern

Despite prolonged wet conditions, planting of sugar beet in the main producing regions of western and northern central Europe has been completed or is nearing completion. However, the delays are expected to negatively impact yields.

"Despite the very wet weather conditions, which lasted until mid April, in the main sugar-beet-producing regions of western and northern central Europe, the much-delayed planting of sugar beet has reached, or is nearing, completion," the MARS Bulletin reports. "A negative impact on yield can be expected as a result of the delays."

While planting is still ongoing in northern countries, the emergence of sugar beet crops in France, the Benelux countries, and Germany is hampered by slug and aphid infestations. Poland and eastern Hungary face a different challenge, with dry topsoil requiring rain to support crop establishment.

Mixed Progress for Grain Maize

The maize sowing campaign is nearing completion across most of Europe, but progress varies across key producing countries. Delayed sowing due to cold spells or excessively wet conditions is reported in some areas.

"The sowing campaign in Romania is nearly completed," the MARS Bulletin states. "It progressed under near-average thermal conditions, with slightly above-average precipitation. The last dekad of April was unusually cold, with moderate frost events occurring in central and northern regions, which, however, are far from the main maize-producing areas."

While sowing in Poland is almost complete, dry topsoil conditions require rainfall. Hungary faces a similar challenge, with maize seedlings smaller than usual due to a slowdown in development caused by cold weather.

Sunflower Sowing Sees Mixed Progress

The sunflower sowing campaign commenced early in Romania and Bulgaria, but progress slowed due to rain and cold weather in the second half of April. However, the campaign has since picked up pace and is nearing completion.

"From mid April, weather conditions became rainy and colder, slowing down the progress of sowing and causing some delays to emergence," the MARS Bulletin notes.

Sowing in Hungary and France was also affected by cold weather, but the campaign has progressed well in recent weeks. In Spain, the sowing campaign has been completed on time in the south, while it is ongoing in other regions.

Soybean Sowing on Track

The soybean sowing campaign is progressing well in most of Europe, with Italy and Romania showing strong progress. However, France has experienced significant delays due to heavy rainfall, with a potential decrease in planted area compared to the previous year.

"In Italy, the EU’s main soybean producing country, as well as in Romania, weather conditions allowed normal progress of soybean sowing and the campaign is well underway," the MARS Bulletin reports. "In France, intense rainfall hampered progress of sowing in the main soybean producing areas, and a decrease of 5.5% in the area is foreseen compared with 20232 ."