The United Nations reported “broadly conducive weather conditions” for European winter wheat, even as French and British data showed crops in both countries making strong starts.

“In the European Union, winter wheat sowings are ongoing under broadly conducive weather conditions, supporting crop emergence,” the UN food agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, said.

The comments came even as FranceAgriMer, the official French crop bureau, reported the condition of the French winter-sown soft wheat crop at 98% “good” or “excellent”.

That compares with a trailing five-year average for the time of year of 90%, on GrainPriceNews calculations, although is below the year-ago figure of 99%.

Only in Brittany in north west France, and in Ile de France, around Paris, was any winter wheat at all reported in “poor” health.

‘Crop has established well’

Over the Channel in the Great Britain, outside the EU, the winter wheat crop as will be harvested in 2023 was, in its first condition score, rated at 87% good or excellent by RSK Adas, a briefing by the AHDB bureau showed.

The reading was 3 points above the year-ago figure, as well as the 57% figure reported for end-November 2020, and the score of only 15% reported for the same time of 2019, after a rain-beset planting period.

“Overall, the crop has established well,” the AHDB said, noting that “only 1% of the crop was said to be in poor-very poor condition.

“Overall prospects look good for the season.”

‘Slight increase in area’

The bureau added that “due to the favourable weather conditions over autumn, and some early harvesting of maize and root crops, there has been a slight increase in winter wheat area plantings” in Great Britain, responsible for the vast majority of UK output.

France is expected next week to release its first plantings estimates.

The International Grains Council forecasts EU all-wheat sowings for the 2023 harvest at 23.9m hectares, down by 0.8% year on year on its data.