World wheat production prospects took a further dent as France’s dryness-tested crop deteriorated for a seventh successive week, even as drought raised doubts over nearly 400,000 hectares of Argentine sowings, on top of the setbacks to US plantings.

The proportion of the French wheat crop rated “good” or “excellent” eased by 1 point to 65% in the week to Monday, FranceAgriMer said, taking the figure further below the five-year average for the time of year of 73%, on GrainPriceNews calculations.

It was the lowest reading, bar one, for mid-June on data going back a decade, in contrast to spring readings above 90%, and matching the highest on the dataset, before France’s hottest May on record, combined with drought, took its toll.

France, the European Union’s top wheat producer and exporter, is poised for a fresh heatwave, which is expected to shift on to second-ranked Germany later this weekend.

‘Could prevent planting’

The reading follows weak official ratings for both US winter wheat, thanks to dryness in the southern Plains, and for the spring wheat crop, thanks to Montana drought.

And it came hours after the Buenos Aires grains exchange cautioned that drought could prompt it to downgrade expectations for Argentina’s wheat plantings, having already cut the estimate by 200,000 hectares to 6.4m hectares.

“The lack of rain in the short- and medium-term forecast continues to put at risk the sowing of a good part of the hectares that remain to be planted, which could once again affect our area projection,” the exchange said.

The major growing state of Cordoba, along with the north west of Argentina, were particularly badly affected, with dryness leading farmers to hold-off on significant areas of sowings.

“The lack of rain forecast for the next 15 days could prevent the planting of the remaining hectares [in these areas] and result in a new adjustment of the planting projection,” said the exchange, which estimates that a total of 385,000 hectares remain to be planted in Cordoba and the north west.

Southern comfort

However, the exchange was less concerned over dryness-caused sowing delays in areas such as Buenos Aires, which have a slightly later planting window, saying that farmers still have the opportunity to switch to shorter-cycle wheat and gain “the possibility of waiting for a new rain event”.

Furthermore, in more southerly growing areas, “despite the lack of humidity” in the topsoil, subsoil moisture “remains at adequate levels,” the exchange said.

“Producers have even chosen to increase the planting depth to ensure emergence,” tapping into the subsoil moisture.

Overall, farmers had seeded 47.4% of their wheat as of Wednesday, a figure 10.0 points behind the year-ago pace, and 6.0 points behind the five-year average.

“Planting delays are the product of a lack of moisture in the profile surveyed in the centre and north of the national agricultural area.”