Europe’s heatwave has hit Germany’s wheat crop “hard”, and is undermining hopes for corn production, but came too late to prevent a strong winter barley harvest, industry officials said.

“It is becoming apparent that drought damage is concentrated on wheat in many regions,” the Deutscher Bauernverband (DBV) industry group said, following prolonged heat and dryness in Europe, where France and the UK on Tuesday broke temperature records.

“The hot days in June hit the wheat hard,” the DBV said.

Wheat harvest results revealed that “so far, both yield and quality have left a lot to be desired”.

‘Very concerned’

The comments raise questions over hopes for a notable rise this year in German wheat output, which the Deutscher Raiffeisenverband (DRV) farmers’ association pegged last week at 22.51m tonnes, up by 1.13m tonnes year on year, on a yield of 7.60 tonnes per hectare, compared with 7.31 tonnes last year.

Coceral estimates the harvest at 22.1m tonnes, up by some 500,000 tonnes on its dataset, with the US Department of Agriculture foreseeing an increase of 541,000 tonnes to 22.0m tonnes.

The heat is also leaving livestock producers “very concerned” for feed supplies, the DBV said, flagging cut to hay and silage production hopes, and reporting that corn (maize) crops are “also suffering from the high temperatures”.

The DRV last week forecast a 375,000-tonne drop to 4.07m tonnes in Germany’s corn production this year, a decline reflected expectations of a 10.8% dip in yields.

Early mover advantage

However, the DBV said that Germany’s rapeseed crop “seems to have gotten through the past few months fairly well in some regions”, adding that harvest yields “have so far been at a satisfactory level”.

Rapeseed – which is seeded early, typically in August in Europe – is one of the earlier-developing and -harvested crops, alongside winter-planted barley, results of which have also escaped heat damage.

The DBV reported a German winter barley yield of nearly 7.5m tonnes per hectare this year – above the 7.2 tonnes per hectare achieved in 2021, and the five-year average of 6.9 tonnes per hectare.

“Once again it has been shown that winter barley in many locations is able to finish producing crops before the pre-summer heat hits,” the industry group said, pegging the winter barley harvest at “about 9m tonnes”.

The DRV last week forecast German winter barley production this year at 8.85m tonnes, based on a yield of 7.23 tonnes per hectare, narrowly ahead of the 7.16 tonnes per hectare it recorded for 2021.

The DRV forecast this year’s German rapeseed harvest at 3.78m tonnes, up by 285,000 tonnes, reflecting an increase in sowings, with the yield flat at just over 3.5 tonnes per hectare.